Monday, December 20, 1999

Molokai resort
looks to pipe water
to island’s west side

Construction was halted in
1994 but may be revived,
now with narrower pipe

By Gary Kubota
Maui correspondent


WAILUKU -- The largest resort on Molokai is reviving plans to construct a pipeline to bring water to the west end of the Friendly Isle.

The size of the proposed pipeline has been cut by more than 50 percent following opposition by Hawaiian homesteaders and environmentalists to the original project several years ago.

Kukui (Molokai) Inc., the parent company of Kaluakoi Hotel & Golf Club, plans to transport the water from its well at Kualapuu through two Molokai Ranch pipelines with a total width of 11 inches.

State environmental engineer Lawrence Whang said the project's design has been approved in concept.

Whang said health officials are reviewing the proposed schedule for the project and are expected to decide within a month whether to approve it.

The project is scheduled to be finished by April.

Buddy Reed, executive vice president of Kukui (Molokai) Inc., said that the project is needed to comply with federal drinking water standards and that the company plans no increase in its use of water.

The original project, 10 miles long with a pipeline 24 inches wide, was initially scheduled to be completed in the fall of 1995.

Maui County public works officials ordered the developer to halt building the pipeline in 1994 after finding the company was clearing too much land without replanting.

Environmentalists and Hawaiian farmers, fearing a lack of water for businesses and native habitat, filed a federal lawsuit charging Kukui failed to obtain a required storm water permit before starting construction.

Kukui, along with its contractors, eventually agreed to pay $382,500 into an environmental fund to settle the lawsuit.

Whang said that under the current proposal, Kukui would use a 5-inch pipeline and a 6-inch pipeline owned by Molokai Ranch to transport its well water from Kualapuu to Maunaloa on the west end.

Whang said Kukui proposes developing a 12-inch pipeline to carry the water from Maunaloa to its resort, including its 138-room hotel. He said the two pipelines were formerly used by Molokai Ranch to transport water to Maunaloa before it developed a separate pipeline to serve its west end customers.

Kukui has been transporting its water through a surface water system and processing it at its treatment plant.

New federal standards that took effect in 1993 are requiring more stringent treatment of surface water, raising the cost of Kukui's drinking water.

Kukui officials want to transport the water through a pipeline system to avoid the surface water regulations.

The resort, which includes an 18-hole golf course, uses about 1.2 million gallons of water a day, according to state officials.

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