Maui taps Iao Stream
to meet water demand
WAILUKU >> Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa said he is talking with state officials about using more stream water to provide enough of a domestic supply for the Valley Isle's central valley because of rising urban demand.
"The county is concerned about the needs of the community," Arakawa said.
Arakawa said his administration wants to look at surface water that agricultural firms are no longer using.
The county water department has an agreement with Wailuku Agribusiness to use up to 300,000 gallons a day of Iao Stream water and perhaps more, depending on the level of flow. The Iao water is processed at a treatment plant before being placed into the domestic system.
County water director George Tengan said the mayor wants to use additional surface water during periods of heavy stream flows to give the Iao ground water system an opportunity to recharge itself.
Tengan said that during periods of drought when the streams are not running, the ground water at Iao would be used to provide county water.
"It makes a lot of sense," Tengan said.
Tengan said he believes using more stream water as an additional county resource could help provide five to 10 years of relief.
Wailuku Agribusiness President Avery Chumbley said his business has been talking with the Arakawa administration and is willing to discuss the acquisition of watershed lands and transmission systems.
Wailuku Agribusiness has about 13,500 acres in watershed in the West Maui Mountains.
"We have immediate solutions to these problems, and we're prepared to go to the table," Chumbley said.
The state Commission on Water Resource Management took over control of the Iao aquifer from the county earlier this month, after the moving pumping average for June exceeded the caution threshold of 18 million gallons a day, a standard set by the commission last November.
Roy Hardy, the commission's ground water regulation branch chief, said the county has a cushion of about 2 million gallons a day before reaching the maximum level of 20 million gallons a day.
The Iao aquifer provides county water for the central valley, including South Maui, one of the fastest-growing communities in Hawaii.
Hardy said a public notice is scheduled to go out Monday, notifying people with Iao wells that they have to seek commission approval within a year if they want to continue to draw ground water.
After public hearings and a review, the commission is expected to determine the allocation of ground water to Iao existing users, then future users, he said.
Hardy said the major user is the county and that others with wells use only an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 gallons a day.
The county will continue to determine the domestic water rates and operate the county wells.
Hardy said the state's designation of the Iao as a ground water management area does not include wells at Waihee, which pump about 4 million gallons a day.