Vigilance in dam safety an apt tribute to victims
State officials assure the public that a breach like that on Kauai last year won't be repeated.
STATE improvements in inspections of reservoirs and dams
since the Ka Loko disaster last year provide residents with a measure of assurance that such a breach won't likely be repeated.
Though a study is being conducted to identify problems and anticipate risks at all of the 136 state-regulated dams, consistent oversight must continue even as the failure at Ka Loko that took the lives of seven people fades from memory. In addition, state lawmakers should put together legislation that balances regulations to protect the public without unduly burdening landowners and agricultural interests.
Heavy rains last March sent more than 300 million gallons of water from the Kauai reservoir downstream, destroying homes and killing seven people while they slept. An independent report pointed to government neglect as one of the reasons for the breach, noting that the state had never inspected Ka Loko even though it was required to do so at least every five years.
Since then, the state says it has had all of the dams and reservoirs inspected at least twice and corrected unsafe conditions where necessary. Two positions have been added to help in the effort and consultants have been hired to pinpoint risks. The state also is seeking funds for two more staffers, repairs and further studies.
Still to be resolved are possible criminal charges with an investigation into the cause or causes of the reservoir breach continuing. In addition, civil suits will keep Ka Loko in the public eye for years to come.
It is unfortunate that the state's remedial actions have come at such a tragic cost. A fitting tribute to the victims should be constant vigilance.
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