LIHU‘E, HI – For well over 150 years, Grove Farm has operated, maintained, and enhanced a series of legacy water infrastructure that serve the Kaua‘i community. An essential part of these complex water systems are dams and reservoirs. These structures were designed and built by the ingenuity and hard work of our ancestors and are critical to Kaua‘i’s sustainability. It is our kuleana – our responsibility – to care for these infrastructure components and we take it seriously.
Dams are designed to confine water in reservoirs. These reservoirs store water to supply our community with drinking water, to irrigate farms to grow our food, and numerous other public uses, such as landscape and park irrigation needs.
During the March rains, Grove Farm’s team worked 24/7 managing our reservoirs. In anticipation of the oncoming heavy rainfall, our team took proactive measures to ensure that the reservoirs could handle the deluge of rainfall – inlets were closed off and the outlets were opened up. The critical spillways were inspected, and remote monitoring systems were all in proper working order.
Six of our reservoirs, throughout our 38,000 acres of land, are regulated by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) – Engineering Division, Dam Safety. They conduct annual inspections and contract third parties to inspect and report on the conditions of the structures. They also manage remote monitoring systems on five of our reservoirs to provide real-time data on reservoir levels. During major storm events, we stay in constant communication with DLNR and have up-to-date Emergency Action Plans for each reservoir, with reporting protocols to both DLNR and the Kauai Emergency Management Agency.
These are examples of the data you can download from the site:
The Kapaia Reservoir rose to 44.5-feet on Saturday, March 13. Following a reprieve in the rainfall and continued diligent management of the water systems, the levels dropped significantly by March 14 and continues to do so. This critical water source provides potable drinking water to 20% of Kaua‘i’s residences and serves numerous farmers, ranchers, and civic users.
The spillway at Kapaia Reservoir is designed to release water at 44-feet, which is precisely what happened. Again, the spillway protects the dam’s wall by releasing water once it reaches a given height – in this case, excess water is intended to flow to open pasture lands.
Recordings at the Waita Reservoir are also taken every five minutes. On Sunday, March 14, the reservoir held at 18.8 feet. Throughout the recent flash flood warnings, the water levels never reached the spillway height of 21-feet. All of the proactive precautionary measures taken by Grove Farm’s team produced the desired results.
Grove Farm has a team of expert water consultants who have years of knowledge and experience maintaining these plantation-era water systems. They conduct continual monitoring and reporting of reservoir levels and conditions, and also perform repairs and maintenance. More importantly, they actively monitor weather conditions and adjust the water systems according to inclement weather.
During severe weather events, such as what we have experienced on March 13, Grove Farm has strict protocols that are followed with the sole objective – community safety! It is our kuleana – our responsibility, and we are fully committed to preserving these vital water components, including dams and reservoirs, to build a sustainable Kaua‘i.