Farmers Forced to Work With 20 Percent Less Irrigation Water

Grant Hamachi, Waimanalo farmer
Grant Hamachi, Waimanalo farmer
Scott Chun, banana farmer
Scott Chun, banana farmer

WAIMANALO (KHNL) - Summer is bearing down on crops with more intensity this season. Below average rainfall has put farmlands in a dry spell, forcing the state to tell Waimanalo farmers, no more water service at night and on weekends.

"Ok, now I got to reduce my planting so I got to subsidize my crop by using other forms," says Grant Hamachi, a Waimanalo farmer.

To conserve water, the state has issued a mandatory 20% cutback on water use of the Waimanalo Irrigation System. For farmers, that means a 20% loss in crops and profits.

"It's an economic loss, make no mistake about that," says Scott Chun, a banana farmer in Waimanalo.

"So you got to change your crop or do a different method of farming. That's the only way you can survive," says Hamachi.

Surviving drought is not new to farmers, they've been through this before. And they say they're willing to abide by the water restrictions.

"Without them we'll just drain the system to zero and then we'll all be dead," says Chun.

While cutbacks may dry up some of their business, farmers say sacrificing some of their fruits and vegetables now is necessary to prevent their farmland from growing even more thirsty in the future.

Farmers say the water cutbacks just aggravate problems they already have with Waimanalo's deteriorating irrigation system. They say the system is leaking, so it's not bringing down all the water down from the mountain top.

Improvements are on the way. Governor Linda Lingle recently approved $500,000 to fix Waimanalo's irrigation system.