The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) has approved an extension, requested by the owners of the Wahiawa Dam on O‘ahu, to design and implement improvements to the dam’s spillway and embankment structure.
In addition, the BLNR authorized fines if Dole Food Company Hawaii (Dole), the dam’s owner, misses key milestones over the next three years. Fines range from $5,000 to $20,000 for each missed deadline associated with activities such as submitting a permit application, hiring a construction contractor, starting construction, and conducting studies. The planned improvements will address risks associated with major deficiencies to the dam structure.
Carty Chang, DLNR Chief Engineer said, “The goal of our Dam Safety Program is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people of Hawai‘i by reducing the risk of a dam failure. We supported the extension because Dole has been working in good faith with the safety program to bring its structure into compliance. Dole needed more time to conduct investigative studies, which we believe are necessary and justified. We will continue working closely with Dole and dam owners across the state, to ensure they continue to meet safety requirements to minimize risks to lives and property.”
DLNR and BLNR Chair Suzanne Case commented, “Climate change will generate stronger storm events with reduced overall total rainfall. The Wahiawa Dam improvements will help this aging dam withstand these more intense storms. We are encouraged that dam owners are taking responsibility for their facilities and choosing to sustain these important water resources. It’s important, particularly during drought conditions, which much of the state is currently seeing, that reservoir storage capacity continues to support local agriculture.”