Lake Wilson water level a moving target

Lake Wilson water level a moving target
Stan Wright
Stan Wright
Ray Tanabe
Ray Tanabe

WAHIAWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Fisherman Stan Wright said up until a couple of weeks ago the water level at Lake Wilson was so low it looked like someone pulled a plug.

He took photographs from under Karsten Thot bridge, and at the boat ramp. where the lake looked more like a wading pool.

"It got down there where we were really concerned, and we were having problems even getting the boats in the water," Wright said.

Lake Wilson is the state's second largest reservoir. It's fed by rainfall in the Koolau mountain range.

National Weather Service chief meteorologist Ray Tanabe said part of the reason the lake was down is because November was one of the driest Novembers on record.

"I took a quick look at some of the gauges that feed into the reservoir," he said. "All of those are running at about 60 to 90 percent of normal rainfall for the year."

Nature isn't the only thing involved in the balancing act. Dole owns the Wahiawa reservoir. It agreed with the state to keep Lake Wilson at a depth of about 65 feet, 20 feet below the height where water could spill over the dam.

Wright said he would like to see the maximum depth raised to 70 feet.

"Instead of having the water level down that low, maybe we could bring it up a little bit more," he said.

But the threat is that a sudden heavy rain could overflow the lake and cause flooding downstream at Otake camp. So Dole periodically drains the reservoir. It also uses the water for irrigation.

"The reservoir can certainly fill up quickly during heavy rainfall. So they have to be very proactive to keep the water levels a little lower," Tanabe said.

Wright and other fishermen worry that low water levels could eventually threaten the peacock bass and other fish in Lake Wilson.

"That's what we're really worried about is that big fish kill, which is not only bad for the fishermen, it's a health issue," he said.

The state said it monitors the lake, and so far, the fluctuation in water level isn't a cause for concern.

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