Officials tell Kauai all its dams are safe
Seven privately owned dams pass inspections ordered by the state
KOLOA, Kauai » Gov. Linda Lingle attended a town meeting Monday night to assuage the fears of Kauai residents about another reservoir dam failure. State and county officials, experts and business leaders assured about 300 residents that the seven dams located above Koloa, Kukuiula and Poipu are safe.
"Once the heavy rains started two months ago, Grove Farm took proactive management steps for all of our reservoirs," company senior vice president Allan Smith said.
"The integrity of the Waita Reservoir was sound," he said.
Grove Farm owns the reservoir that, with a maximum capacity of 3.2 billion gallons, is by far the largest on Kauai.
Representatives of Alexander & Baldwin, which owns the six other reservoirs, also said their dams were fine.
Inspections of all reservoirs in the state were ordered after the Ka Loko Dam burst March 14, killing seven people.
"All (reservoirs) inspected posed no immediate threat to the structure of the dams," said Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, state Civil Defense director.
State and county officials said efforts were under way to share the findings of the inspections.
"We are making sure you have all the information you need, for now and the future," Lingle told residents.
Kauai Mayor Bryan Baptiste sounded a note of caution.
"As far as these breaching activities, in terms of how much water would come down and where it would go, we don't know," he said.
"We've done (models) for (disasters) that we're used to -- the hurricanes, the tsunamis -- but not for dams," Baptiste said. "We don't know what would happen and how massive it would be."
Kauai received about 10 times more rainfall than normal in the month of March, Kauai Civil Defense administrator Mark Marshall said. Lihue Airport received over 36 inches of rain in March; the average rainfall total is 3 to 4 inches, he said.
Star-Bulletin reporter Tom Finnegan and the Associated Press contributed to this report.