Bottom of the Basin

Popohaku sediment to be used at the dump.

By Catherine Cluett

For an island whose reefs are threatened by sediment build-up, anything to keep silt from the coastal zone is considered important. That’s why Goodfellow Bros. will be performing maintenance on the Popohaku sediment basin, dredging built-up silt to a depth of about 3 feet in the 30,000 square foot basin.

Lori Buchanan, a member of the Molokai Planning Commission, said the purpose of the basin is to catch sediment from the area’s rivers before the run-off drains into Popohaku’s coastal zones. The basin, which was originally created in 2000, she said, is owned by Molokai Ranch.

Goodfellow was granted an exemption from Special Management Area (SMA) rules in order to perform the maintenance. Dredging is expected to begin in the next month.

Removal of material will occur only within the existing location using existing access routes to minimize environmental impacts. The process is beneficial to the environment in that it prevents overflow of silt from the basin into coastal zones, according to Molokai planner Nancy McPherson. Heavy equipment will be present in the area for about two weeks.

Dathan Bicoy of Goodfellow said the company is contracted by the county to provide building material for a new, third “cell” in the landfill. The lining of the newly prepared area needs to have a high clay content, which is exactly what silt from the Popohaku basin has. He said Molokai Ranch offered the material from their land for the project.

Maintenance of the basin is the kuleana of Molokai Ranch which originally built it, said Buchanan, so they are benefiting from the deal by having Goodfellow perform the dredging.

“This year, rains came within 2 feet of dyke,” said Molokai Planning Commissioner member Don Williams. “So this project is much needed.”

 

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