By Diane Ako
HONOLULU (KHNL)- Water woes are bringing a group of state lawmakers and government officials to Hawaii Island this weekend. It's another chapter in a continuing saga that began when the October 15, 2006 earthquake damaged major water sources.
Cloverleaf Dairy Farms produces a third of all the milk sold on the Big Island. It is one of about 50 agricultural customers who relied on the private, 22.5-mile Kohala Ditch for water. Farmer Ed Botello sighs and says, "The ditch was our lifeline here. 80% of my water for this farm was all from the ditch."
The Kohala Ditch used to carry up to 15 million gallons of water a day. The farm took a massive hit when the ditch, which is still not running, dried up. State Civil Defense Vice Director Ed Teixiera provides an overview of the damage. "There are 2 sections of the irrigation system cut off. In North Kohala, there's no water flowing into the North Kohala Ditch because of the avalanche."
The Lower Hamakua Ditch is also dry. That's why 4 state representatives (Dwight Takamine (D)- North Kohala, South Kohala, Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo; Marcus Oshiro (D)- Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, Poamoho; Clift Tsuji (D)- South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown; and Marilyn Lee (D)- Mililani, Mililani Mauka) are meeting on the Big Island on Saturday, for an aerial tour of the damage sites. Teixeira explains, "The earthquake caused avalanches that have covered the intake system and destroyed trails, covered flumes."