Chronology of Waiahole Ditch

posted in: November 2000, Water | 0

1913-1916: Waiahole Water Co., Ltd., constructs the Waiahole Ditch. The cross -Ko`olau tunnel alone is 2.76 miles long. Drilling of “developmental tunnels” to feed into the system did not cease until 1963. By the 1990s, the ditch was delivering about 27 million gallons a day on average to leeward O`ahu.

July 1992: The Commission on Water Resource Management designates windward O’ahu as a water management area. Within one year, all users of windward groundwater are required to apply for water use permits.

June 1993: O`ahu Sugar Co. submits five applications for use of up to 24.6 million gallons a day from the Waiahole Ditch and its feeders. The use was “primarily for sugarcane cultivation.”

August 1993: Amfac, parent company of O`ahu Sugar and Waiahole Water Co. (now known as Waiahole Irrigation Co., or WIC) announces plans to shut down plantation operations.

November 1993: State Department of Agriculture files a request with the Water Commission to “reserve” all the water in Waiahole ditch for agricultural purposes.

December 1993: Kahalu`u Neighborhood Board No. 29, Waiahole-Waikane Community Association, and the Hakipu`u Ohana petition the Water Commission to restore flows in windward streams from Kualoa south to He`eia. The petition was expanded in April 1994 to include restoration of flows in Kahana Stream. The commission determined the petition was complete; the deadline for acting on the petition was set at December 19, 1994.

June 1994: Amfac submits revised applications for water use, with intended use identified as “diversified agriculture and irrigation for planned and existing urban development in central and leeward O`ahu.” The state Department of Land and Natural Resources joins as “co-applicant.” The petition is deemed incomplete.

October 1994: The parties to the Waiahole dispute enter a process of mediation. More than a dozen claimants to the water participate. Mediation fails to resolve issues; a contested case hearing is approved.

December 1994: The gate at the head of Waiahole Stream is opened and about 14 million gallons a day are restored to the stream, under terms of a six-month agreement worked out though mediation.

June 19, 1995: As the expiration of the agreement approaches, Amfac announces plans to reduce stream flows. Protesters gather at the head of Waiahole Stream.

June 21, 1995: Attorney General Margery Bronster and Waiahole Irrigation Co. are granted a restraining order allowing for the removal of protesters.

June 23, 1995: Amfac announces it will not increase the flow in the ditch until the Water Commission has a chance to extend the interim agreement.

June 30, 1995: The Water Commission directs that 9.4 million gallons a day flow into the trans-Ko`olau tunnel of the ditch, while the remaining water is to flow into Waiahole Stream. With an additional 4 mgd of water collected in the tunnel itself, leeward flow in the ditch is around 13 mgd. The base flow in Waiahole stream, which has been about 3 mgd before December 1994, is now about 16 mgd.

November 1995: The contested case hearing opens.

November-December 1995: Environment Hawai`i reports conflicts of interests involving Water Commissioner Herbert “Monty” Richards in the Waiahole case. Richards is part-owner of two companies leasing land from Campbell Estate, a party in the contested case, he has entered into a development agreement with the Gentry Companies, another party with an interest in the decision; and one of his companies, Kahua Ranch, had gone on record with testimony in 1994 favoring leeward uses of Waiahole water.

January 1996: Commissioner Richards rescues himself from participation in the Waiahole contested case. No reason is given,

August 21, 1996: Testimony in the Waiahole contested case is completed, after 52 hearing days, four evening sessions, testimony from 161 witnesses, and 567 exhibits admitted into evidence.

July 1997: The Water Commission releases a proposed decision. In arguments before the commission, Attorney General Margery Bronster, representing the state Department of Agriculture, testifies in opposition to the proposal drafted by Deputy Attorney General Bill Tam, assigned to the Water Commission.

September 1997: Deputy Attorney General Tam is dismissed by Bronster.

December 1997: The Water Commission issues a 250-plus page ruling in the contested case. The final decision differs from the proposed one, in that it has increased the amount of water distributed to leeward parties by 3.8 mgd.

January 1998: The decision is appealed to the Supreme Court.

July 1998: The state Agribusiness Development Council acquires Waiahole Ditch.

August 22, 2000: The Supreme Court issues its ruling.

Volume 11, Number 5 November 2000

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