(HANALEI, KAUAI) – Hanalei Stream is again flowing freely and within its banks after the completion of a multi-million dollar stream restoration project. Hanalei is one of only two EPA National Heritage rivers west of the Rockies. A breach in its bank, 20 years ago, diverted water from the stream and often flooded adjacent properties after heavy rains. This break also reduced stream flow entering an intake pipe that provides water for Hawaii’s largest taro
growing complex, and habitat for endangered native birds within the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge.
Yesterday, under gray skies, Jade Waialeale Battad stood on the rain soaked stream bank, recently planted with hundreds of native plants, and blessed the state-sponsored project. Nine taro farmers, their families, local and state political leaders, engineers and construction workers joined in the commemoration of the end of work. Rodney Haraguchi, one of the farmers who was an outspoken advocate of the repairs outlined stop-gap measures taken over the past two decades to try and fix the breach. None of those steps provided a permanent solution. Around 2011, the state legislature provided the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) millions of dollars for the restoration project. Carty Chang, DLNR chief engineer said, “Without this work, to repair the streambank, flooding of adjoining properties would continue to be a risk, the taro loi would be in jeopardy due to insufficient water and habitat for endangered Hawaii
waterbirds in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge would be negatively impacted.”
At a community luau following the blessing, Haraguchi noted the importance of the Hanalei loi as a primary producer for statewide taro consumption and of the area’s cultural and natural resource significance. Thousands of visitors stop at a viewpoint overlooking the wildlife refuge and can see taro fields stretching across the expansive valley with Hanalei Stream gently flowing through it. Chang added, “There were many challenges in undertaking this project, however, by working closely with stakeholders and the community, we are confident the streambank restoration will restore adequate flows for farmers and the wildlife refuge, and reduce the amount of sediment flowing into Hanalei Bay.”
The new plantings and the streambank improvements, will be monitored by the DLNR over the next three years. A temporary irrigation system is in place in case of dry spells, but the area is typically one of the wettest agricultural areas on Kauai. It’s expected in time, the vegetation will blend seamlessly with the surrounding forest. The Hanalei Stream Bank Restoration Project was engineered by AECOM Technical Services Inc., and construction was done by Goodfellow Construction Inc.
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HD Video of blessing, luau, and soundbites:
HD Video of construction work (Oct. 2015)
Photographs of construction, completion and blessing:
(images 4617-4682, construction work, loi, wildlife refuge and overviews:
images 53-82-5400, completed project and blessing)
Senior Communications Manager