Golf course water plans get OK
The Central Oahu project is criticized by environmental groups for its usage plans
A Central Oahu development to include two new golf courses, up to 12,000 homes and 90 acres of retail took another step toward reality yesterday, with state approval of its golf course irrigation plans.
Waiawa Development LLC plans to pump 1 million gallons a day of ground water for the golf courses it wants to be centerpieces to its proposed 3,700-acre community on former sugar fields between Pearl City and Mililani Mauka.
The state Water Commission yesterday authorized Waiawa Development to drill two wells, saying that the aquifer has sufficient water to supply the golf courses. The commission is charged with allocating available water in the state's aquifers.
However, the company must switch to using treated and recycled waste water for the golf courses when it becomes available, which is expected in six years.
Yesterday's approval didn't include the water needs for the entire development, which will be addressed separately through the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. Those needs are estimated at about 18 million gallons a day.
Waiawa Development, a Gentry affiliate, is "thrilled to get the water," President Dave McCoy said yesterday. A "no" from the Water Commission "would have been the end of the golf courses," he said, although the company would have proceeded with phases of single- and multi-family housing and a retail center on land owned by Kamehameha Schools and Gentry.
Waiawa Development had earlier sought to use Waiahole Ditch water from Windward Oahu to water its proposed golf courses. But no new allocations of that water are possible until pending legal issues are resolved.
Spokesmen for the Sierra Club and the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs questioned the wisdom of earmarking any drinkable water for golf course irrigation.
"We think the use of potable water to water a golf course is inappropriate" when the Board of Water Supply is urging Oahu residents to be conservative in their use of water and is even considering a $50 million desalinization plant, Sierra Club spokesman Jeff Mikulina said.
"What is the message? Are we telling Auntie she should only be watering during certain parts of the day, but we can come up with a million gallons for a golf course," Mikulina asked.
Waiawa Development also had a separate agreement with the Board of Water Supply to adjust pumping from its new wells if they affected water quality at nearby Board of Water Supply wells, said Barry Usagawa, water resources principal.