Take action to protect Kauaʻi’s Stream

For a century, the sugar cane industry massively diverted stream water out of the Wailua basin on Kauaʻi’s east side, doing immeasurable harm to the environment and to cultural and agricultural practices of native Hawaiians.

Now KIUC wants to continue this destructive practice for another 65 years. Tell the Board of Land and Water Resources (BLNR) to reject KIUC’s inadequate Environmental Assessment (EA) and to deny its application for a 65-year lease to continue to divert Wai`ale`ale and Waikoko Streams. KIUC uses the water diverted from the two Blue Hole streams to power two 100-year old hydroelectric plants that generate less than 1% of the utility’s electricity output.  The Lawai pump storage plant coming on line in 2020 will generate almost 60 times more electricity for nighttime use, making the two old hydroplants obsolete.  KIUC’s EA does not meet State requirements for a lease application. There are significant spiritual, cultural, environmental and public trust impacts that can only be addressed with an EIS. Also:

  • KIUC receipt of federal funds in 2017 for system upgrades requires an EIS for future lease approval
  • The stream above the diversion is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as federally protected critical habitat for the endangered endemic Newcomb’s Snail which requires an EIS.

Other talking points include:

  • KIUC’s use of the water is consumptive, meaning it is not returned to the stream of origin.  Any consumptive use of water within conservation district land requires legislative approval.
  • More than a dozen streams are diverted out of the Wailua watershed. But, Wai`ale`ale and Waikoko Streams are the only two streams accessible to the public; they are located in the Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve.
  • KIUC is asking for 30 million gallons per day (MGD) with the stream getting 3.5 MGD, or less in dry conditions.
  • The impacts of climate change is not addressed in the EA.What will rainfall patterns and stream flows be like 50-65 years from now?

The public has until November 7 to comment on the Draft EA.  Please submit testimony to ian.c.hirokawa@hawaii.gov.  Reference:  KIUC’s Waiahi Hydropower Long-Term Water Lease. Mahalo!!