MAUI, Hawaii (KHON2) — The Kaupakalua Dam is one of the oldest agricultural dams and was built more than a hundred years ago.
Records show that state inspectors issued a Notice of Deficiency to the owners last year.
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The state says Kaupakalua Dam is an earthen dam that was built in 1885. It can hold 68 million gallons of water, and it measures 57 feet high and 400 feet long.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is responsible for inspecting some 135 registered dams statewide.
Last year the state issued a Notice of Deficiency to the owners of Kaupakalua Dam. It was one of nine dams cited as being in poor or unsatisfactory physical condition. It’s not clear if the owner, Mahi Pono, ever addressed the problem. The company denied our request for an interview.
But the state has put together rules for all owners of dams ever since the Ka loko Dam breached on Kauai in 2006.
“Every water structure in the state has to have a plan which includes an evacuation plan that goes with it,” said Ed Teixeira, retired state Civil Defense vice-administrator.
The state says Mahi Pono contacted the state at 1:30 p.m. Monday, March 8, 2021 to report extremely heavy rainfall and indicated the spillway was running very high. It initiated an emergency which means there was a potential for failure. Mahi Pono reported that the dam was starting to overtop the embankment just before three o’clock.
Teixeira points out that many of the dams in existence are very old and inspections by the state and owners are critical.
“It’s a wonder that so many have lasted this long, but certainly they’re gonna deteriorate with age,” he said. “So it’s a constant thing for owners to inspect and maintain these structures.”