$197,000 to help keep ditch flowing
The October quakes damaged Kohala Ditch on the Big Isle
HILO » The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved $197,000 to be used to pump water from wells into the earthquake-damaged Kohala Ditch irrigation canal on the Big Island.
The announcement was made Thursday by U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka.
"A federal-private partnership, the Biosystems Technology Oversight Committee, recommended funding the pumping of water from two existing wells into portions of the Kohala Ditch to provide a supplemental source of water while the main portion of the irrigation system is undergoing repairs," the senators said in a news release.
The 22.5-mile ditch was built 75 years ago by a former sugar company and was in need of repairs even before it was damaged caused by two major earthquakes on Oct. 15, they said.
Inouye said he was aware that the benefit provided by the federal funds would be "temporary and partial."
Akaka said some would-be users of the ditch water will receive no benefit from the pumping project.
Shortly after the Oct. 15 earthquakes, Michael Gomes, an officer of Surety Kohala Corp., which owns the ditch, said the normal flow in it before the quakes was 12 million gallons per day.
Gomes said he hoped to restore a flow of 1 million gallons per day by pumping two wells.
Early in December, Democrats Inouye and Akaka were critical of Republican colleagues for rejecting a bill that would have provided agricultural money for Hawaii as well as farms and ranches in the Midwest.
The bill would have provided $3 million for the Kohala Ditch, $4 million for the Upper Hamakua Ditch and $6 million for the Lower Hamakua Ditch. In all, the bill would have provided $26 million for earthquake and flood damage in Hawaii.