Farmers hope irrigation improvements lead to more water

Farmers hope irrigation improvements lead to more water
Douglas Stewart
Douglas Stewart
Derek Wroe
Derek Wroe

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

WAIMANALO, Oahu (HawaiiNewsNow) - Summer is still a week and half away and farmers say the drought conditions are already worse than last year, which is why they're counting on some solutions from the state.

East Oahu farmers are under a mandatory 30 percent cutback in irrigation water use. On top of that is a reduction in service hours to use that water.

Douglas Stewart is just a few years away from retirement. But he plans to keep busy by running his farm full-time.

"This is living, grow your own vegetables and do your own thing," he said.

He grows bamboo, limes and avocados. Like most farmers in the area, Stewart uses irrigation water from the Waimanalo Reservoir.

"I just use frugally, water the trees when it needs water and not just letting it run constantly," he said.

With drought conditions forcing cutbacks and limited service hours, many Waimanalo farmers are looking to the state for some help.

"Can't water everything, as you can see some of the grass is kind of dry, but you certainly want enough water for your trees," Stewart said.

Farmers say sometime this year, the state is hoping to capture water that's been lost through erosion or clogging of ditches.

To do this, they're putting in plastic linings and re-routing ditches.

"We're not looking at any significant relief this Summer, that's probably not going to happen, once we head into the Fall, that's when we typically start seeing rains increase, that's when we can start to see some relief from this drought," National Weather Service forecaster Derek Wroe said.

Wroe says for over a year now, the state has been under some of the worst drought conditions in the country.

"It's been creating problems with water supply, we're heading into the driest part of the year, June is typically one of the driest months of the year and heading into the summertime, it's typically a time where we see less rainfall," he said.

He says 2009 was the driest year in three decades, but he tells us this year could top that.

"It's a good probability we'll see a worsening of the drought conditions across the state," he said.

A prediction, farmers like Stewart hope won't come true.

The last time the state was considered to be drought-free was April, 2008.

Since then, various areas of the islands have been under at least moderate drought conditions.

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