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State to spend $26M to fix the aging Wahiawa Dam, acquire Lake Wilson

After years of trying, the state will spend $26 million to fix the aging Wahiawa Dam and acquire Lake Wilson.
Published: May. 21, 2022 at 5:26 PM HST|Updated: May. 21, 2022 at 5:30 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After years of trying, the state will spend $26 million to fix the aging Wahiawa Dam and acquire Lake Wilson.

The state Legislature appropriated the money this session to repair the 116-year-old earthen dam and acquire its irrigation system. As part of that deal, Dole Food company will turn the 325-acre lake over to the state.

State Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, who helped spearhead the plan, said the repairs will also boost agriculture in the region — which already employs about 500 people.

“I’m really excited about it. I think it’s going to be good for agriculture now and good for the future,” Dela Cruz said.

Dela Cruz said uncertainly over the future of Lake Wilson and the dam has made it hard for farmers to plan for their future. A mainland or foreign buyer might reduce the water supply or increase costs.

“This means stability, consistency. They can plan, they can depend on the water,” he said.

Fixing the dam will allow the state to raise the water level of Lake Wilson, which could benefit recreational users.

Experts say fishing will improve at the lake which is already known for its fresh water bass tournaments.

“The fish will spread out, they’ll have more spawning, we’ll have more fish. The whole quality of fishing resource will improve,” said fishing advocate Stan Wright.

Dela Cruz said camp sites are another potential addition. He said the Legislature also appropriated money for additional security and park employees.

“We want to make sure it’s something that not just Wahiawa but all of Hawaii can be proud of,” he said.

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