Kauai dam work to end soon
Repair of the dam spillway at Alexander Reservoir in Kalaheo on Kauai, which was damaged by torrential rains in March 2006, should be completed by the end of the year, landowner Alexander & Baldwin says.
The $4 million project will be the largest fix to date of dam problems caused by record-breaking rains, said Edwin Matsuda, dam safety engineer with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
A&B workers discovered erosion damage from the March 2006 rains to Alexander Dam's lower spillway and pointed it out to state and federal inspectors, company dam safety coordinator Mark Vaught said.
"The (concrete) spillway itself is intact," Vaught said, but the "downchute portion that takes water off the spillway and down into Wahiawa Gulch" was damaged.
A few more heavy rains like those experienced in March 2006 could have caused a problem, Vaught said. A&B made temporary repairs in 2006 and has kept the level of Alexander Reservoir at about half its 800 million-gallon capacity as a precaution, he said.
No buildings or residences downstream from the reservoir have been in danger, Vaught said.
A dam breach at Ka Loko Reservoir on March 14, 2006, killed seven people, destroyed several homes and damaged the Kuhio Highway to Kauai's North Shore. The event triggered multi-agency inspections of every major dam in the state and stepped up efforts to repair problems.
Permanent spillway chute repairs began early this year with Goodfellow Brothers as contractor. The job has taken some time because of the reservoir's remote location, Vaught said.
The bulk of the work involved placing boulders and pouring concrete to fill in the eroded area, the state's Matsuda said. A&B also planned to repair an area of seepage in the dam embankment.
The reservoir serves 1,100 acres, or about one-third, of land planted by A&B subsidiary Kauai Coffee, Vaught said.
A&B has 48 regulated dams statewide, Vaught said, 18 on Kauai and 30 on Maui.