12 A&B dams rated as 'high hazard'
Alexander & Baldwin Inc. oversees 19 reservoirs on Kauai, 12 of which are considered "high hazard" because of their proximity to residents.
The 19 reservoirs were built to provide irrigation for the McBryde Sugar Co. and are now used by A&B and its subsidiary, Kauai Coffee, which cultivates about 3,400 acres. The reservoirs are all on the south side of the island between Koloa and Eleele.
According to the National Inventory of Dams compiled by the American Society of Civil Engineers, 12 of A&B's dams are rated "high hazard," meaning that if the dam breached, it would cause major loss of life and property. Dam hazard ratings are linked to what is built downstream from them -- housing or businesses -- and does not indicate structural quality.
A&B spokeswoman Linda Howe said via e-mail: "We do daily inspections on all reservoirs. Kauai Coffee operates and maintains its entire irrigation system (including reservoirs, power generation and field irrigation).
"Staff includes several management people and a dozen orchard workers. Other company reservoirs are maintained by contractors," Howe said.
According to the database, 12 of A&B's dams, all made of earth and rock, were built before 1911.
A&B owns the vast majority of about 52 dams on the island. The database is missing one of A&B's dams. The database is also only current to 2002, the last year funding was available to compile the information.
The largest reservoir, Alexander Reservoir on Wahiawa Stream in Kalaheo, provides hydroelectric power and irrigation for Kauai Coffee.
The dam, built in 1931, is the tallest on Kauai at 113 feet and holds a maximum water storage capacity of 2,540 acre-feet.
Ka Loko, which breached on Tuesday, is owned by retired auto dealer James Pflueger and is 44 feet tall with maximum water storage of 1,400 acre-feet.
Lawmakers urge studies of dam safety statewide
Congressmen pledge federal support in dealing with disasters
State lawmakers want a study of all public and privately owned dams in the islands in response to the Ka Loko Reservoir disaster.
House Concurrent Resolution 288, introduced Wednesday, says the study should include information on the ownership of all dams, their conditions and the estimated damage if a break were to happen.
The resolution also asks for an action plan to address dam maintenance and a determination on what action the state must take if the owner of a dam refuses or is unable to repair a dam.
A related resolution, HCR 272, urges the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to determine whether any dams in the state are in danger of failing. The measure also was introduced Wednesday.
In Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said the failure of Ka Loko Reservoir Dam on Kauai demonstrates the need for congressional action on a bill to help fund dam repair and rehabilitation.
"'Out of sight, out of mind' is a recipe for disaster," Democrat Abercrombie said Wednesday in a news release issued by his Washington office. "The Ka Loko tragedy underlines the terrifying consequences of ignoring dam safety."
Democratic Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka also issued releases expressing their concern for Tuesday's dam failure, which left at least two persons dead. Five others were missing.
In November, Abercrombie co-sponsored the Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act of 2005, which would authorize $350 million in federal grants to states over a three-year period. The grants would cover up to 65 percent of the costs of repair, replacement, reconstruction or removal of unsafe dams.
Akaka and Inouye said federal money could be forthcoming.
"I stand ready to offer any assistance to the state of Hawaii that I can, including securing emergency federal funding for the state," Akaka said.
Inouye also said he was prepared to seek whatever aid is needed.
"As we have learned with the severe flooding of the University of Hawaii and Manoa Valley in 2004, federal assistance is invaluable in assisting with the recovery from this sort of catastrophe," Inouye said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.