Categorized | Government, News

South Kona irrigation EIS contract awarded

MEDIA RELEASE

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development recently executed a three-way contract with the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture and Belt Collins Hawai`i, Ltd., to complete an environmental impact statement and complete a test well siting study for the proposed South Kona Watershed Irrigation Project.

Planning for the South Kona project was initiated at the height of an extended drought in South Kona with assistance from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Kona Soil and Water Conservation District. When completed the project will provide needed irrigation water to some 180 farms and ranches on 7,500 acres within communities of Honomalino and Kapua. Kona County Farm Bureau’s subcommittee chair for this project, Ellen Mehos said, “This initiative will assure that farmers have access to critical irrigation water throughout the growing season, resulting in increased productivity and quality and reducing the risk of crop losses associated with dry periods.”

Randy Kurohara, Director for County R&D noted that, “Farmers generally work on thin profit margins. If government agencies and the community can collaborate to bring infrastructure improvements to clusters of farmers that is a very good thing. We need to support the development of our farm businesses.”

Brian Kau, Administrator for the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Resource Management Division said, “This project will bring on line a dedicated source of agricultural water, something that is not readily available throughout much of the South Kona district.” Lawrence T. Yamamoto, NRCS Director for the Pacific Islands Area, agreed with Kau and added, “The sustainable development and use of our natural resources is everyone’s responsibility and fulfilling that responsibility will assure that the land and water is here for future generations of families and wildlife.” Both administrators indicated that their respective programs were pleased to be able to provide resources and support to the development of this key project.

Belt Collins Project Manager, Olwen Huxley noted, “The draft EIS is expected to be out in later summer and will allow landowners, farmers and government agencies the opportunity to review and provide comments on the prospective environmental and socio-economic impacts of the proposed project. Such feedback from stakeholders is critical in the overall assessment of the appropriateness of the project and to avoid missing any critical elements in the planning phases.”

The test well siting study will proceed concurrently with the preparation and review of the draft EIS. This study will evaluate one or more well sites, involve preliminary design and cost estimates of well systems, and include a list of required permits. No test well drilling will be initiated under the contract scope.

Funds to carry out the EIS preparation and related studies were provided by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the County totaling $347,200 with initial support from U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye. An additional $80,000 was provided by the NRCS for a total award of $427,200. In-kind technical support and fiscal management is made possible through the HDOA. Between 2003 and 2005, NRCS had contributed $225,000 for earlier reconnaissance and EIS preparation studies.

For more information, please contact Ellen Mehos at 328-9649.

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