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Aging Water System Gets $37M Upgrade

Photos courtesy of DHHL

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

Repairs and improvements to the 80-year-old Ho’olehua Water System kicked off with a small groundbreaking ceremony last Thursday that marks the beginning of a multi-phase, $37 million project that will last about two years. The water system serves more than 2,400 customers, including about 500 homesteads in Hoʻolehua, Palaʻau, Kalamaʻula and Moʻomomi, as well as provides water to the post office, schools and airport.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) capital improvement project will include improvements such as the installation of a 200,000-gallon storage tank, upgrades to automation systems, a new warehouse, and a new emergency generator diesel fuel tank. Other upgrades involve new paved roads and fencing, along with the repair and replacement of existing tanks, pumps, transmission mains, laterals, valves and hydrants, according to DHHL.

“Among the four water systems the Department oversees, Hoʻolehua is the oldest and has been in desperate need of repair for some time,” said Hawaiian Homes Commission (HHC) Chair William Aila, Jr. “The project highlights our state and congressional leadership’s understanding of important issues facing our rural communities as this project would not be possible without their initiative.”

Construction is slated to take about two years to complete. DHHL says customers should expect intermittent water outages and construction traffic during regular business hours throughout the project’s duration.

The project will be built in two phases spanning seven construction sites by contractor Goodfellow Brothers and managed by SSFM International. The $37 million budget was funded in part with a $19 million allocation from the USDA.

The small, socially distanced ground-breaking ceremony on Nov. 19 was attended by Rep. Lynn DeCoite, Aila, HHC Molokai Commissioner Zachary Helm and USDA Community Program Loan Specialist Nate Riedel.

“What a wonderful way to start the morning, making sure our homestead water system will be improved and continue to serve our future generations,” wrote DeCoite on social media.

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