Reservoir Break Prompts Closer Look at Hawaii's Dams - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Reservoir Break Prompts Closer Look at Hawaii's Dams

Jim Pennaz with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows map of reservoirs to KHNL News 8 reporter Kristine Uyeno. Jim Pennaz with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows map of reservoirs to KHNL News 8 reporter Kristine Uyeno.
Nuuanu reservoir on Oahu Nuuanu reservoir on Oahu

(KHNL)  The reservoir break on Kauai is prompting state officials to take closer looks at dams across our Islands.

"It was probably going to happen sooner or later," said Jim Pennaz with the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Pennaz said most of the local dams were built 100 years ago using 100-year-old methods. Most of the dams were built using soil, for irrigation purposes. That's why many of them are in need of major maintenance work.

In fact, according to a recent study by the "Dam Safety Coalition," 77 of the 134 state regulated dams are high hazard, including the Waita Dam on Kauai and Nuuanu Dam on Oahu.

Another report by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Hawaii a "D" for its dams.

Pennaz says the Kaneohe Dam, is an ideal model, since its built with enough spillway to handle a flood.

"We also need to look at embankments and get vegetation off of them and see if there's any seepage coming through the embankments and in general, see if they can handle a higher frequency flood," said Pennaz.

In a written statement, Congressman Neil Abercrombie said, "the Kaloko tragedy underlines the terrifying consequences of ignoring dam safety...we need to invest in programs that will ensure the safety of our people and keep our economy moving."

He says congressional action is needed on a bill that would provide up to $350 million for dam repairs.

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