Quake repairs get $38M federal boost
Some $2.2 million is to restore the Kohala Irrigation System
HILO » Hawaii will receive nearly $38 million from the federal government for relief from Oct. 15 earthquake damage as part of an emergency bill to keep the federal government running, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye announced yesterday.
The earthquake money includes $35.7 million to reimburse Hawaii County and the state for repair of earthquake-damaged roads on the Big Island and Maui, Inouye said.
The bill also includes $2.2 million to restore the Kohala Irrigation System, which has had little repair since the earthquakes.
Since the roadwork has already been done, the irrigation work is the greatest need. "This is going to make a world of difference," said Mike Gomes, of Surety Kohala Corp., which owns the irrigation system.
Inouye noted that the 15-mile-long system normally carries 10 million gallons per day of Kohala Mountain stream water but has been reduced to 500,000 gallons per day of pumped well water.
A large dairy in the area that produces a third of the Big Island milk supply has been "severely impacted" by the lack of water, Inouye said.
Gomes identified the dairy as the one owned by Ed Boteilho, who was not available for comment.
"He's really hurting," Gomes said. Boteilho is not only lacking his normal supply of drinking water for his cattle, but is also out of grass as low rainfall fails to regenerate pastures.
In all, more than 500 North Kohala families depend on the irrigation system, Inouye said.
Besides the federal money, the Legislature provided about $500,000 for irrigation repairs, and AT&T donated $100,000, Gomes said. The AT&T money was donated to the county to be used where it is most needed, and the county decided that was for the North Kohala water system.
The highway money will include $3.1 million to reimburse work on Honoapiilani Highway on Maui, Inouye said.
The remainder, $32.6 million, will go to reimbursement for state and county work on eight Big Island roadways.
Inouye said the federal bill also adds $1.2 billion for a mine-resistant vehicle for troops in Iraq.