DLNR fines dam owners on Oahu and Hawaii Island citing health and safety concerns

DLNR fines dam owners on Oahu and Hawaii Island citing health and safety concerns
Wahiawa dam at Lake Wilson (FILE) (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Board of Land and Natural Resources fined the owners of dams on Oahu and Hawaii Island Friday for not addressing risks associated with its aging dam structures.

Officials from the Department of Land and Natural Resources said the fines were given to ensure owners met dam structure requirements that comply with safety standards and regulations set forth in state law.

On Oahu, Dole Food Company Hawaii, one of the owners of the Wahiawa Dam at Lake Wilson, was fined $20,000.

Edmund C. Olson Trust No. II, owner of the Keaiwa Reservoir on Hawaii Island, was fined $7,500.

DLNR said the Dam Safety program was created to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents by mitigating the risk of dam and reservoir failures.

“We shouldn’t wait any longer. Its been almost 12 years that dam owner has been aware of the spillway deficiencies, any further delays will continue to put downstream lives and property at risk,” said Carty Chang, DLNR’s chief engineer.

“With the effects of climate change and continued aging of the dam structure are only going to increase, and immediate action needs to be taken. It’s not just the law, it’s in the best interest of our community and future generations.”

DLNR said a third enforcement action was brought against the owner of Ukumehame Reservoir on Maui, but a representative of the owner, West Maui Investors, LLC, requested a contested case hearing. Officials said the matter was deferred pending that procedure.

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