Coverup: Activists Sabotage Wailuku River Diversion Gates, Responsible for Fish Kill
Maui News Nov 6, 2019: … Damage to diversions and redirecting of stream flow in the Wailuku River reduced water intake to the county treatment plant to the point that it had to shutdown three times since Oct. 28, the county water director said.
The latest treatment plant shutdown occurred Sunday after the completion of a fish ladder construction project in the river led to a fish-kill event….
More than 15,000 Central Maui customers in Paia, Kahului, Wailuku, Wailuku Heights, Waikapu, Happy Valley, Waihee, Kihei, Wailea and Makena get water from the Iao Water Treatment Plant. The plant draws 1.7 million gallons per day of surface water from Wailuku Water Co. at its Wailuku River intake near the Hawaii Nature Center in Iao Valley.
Due to the redirecting of stream flows above the Wailuku Water Co. intake, the department said it has experienced at least three shutdowns of the Iao Water Treatment since Oct. 28, with the most recent stoppage Sunday.
“When this occurs, DWS loses valuable source for our Central Maui customers,” Pearson said. “This loss of surface water source puts a greater strain on our ground water sources. We have limits for both Waihee and Iao aquifers on pumping, and over pumping to meet system demand may violate the maximum sustainable yields of these aquifers.”
The redirection of water makai toward the river mouth appears to coincide with state-ordered Wailuku River water diversions to build a fish ladder, said Avery Chumbley of Wailuku Water Co.
Last week, hundreds of ‘o’opu, or Hawaiian goby, were inadvertently killed at the completion of the fish ladder project because of a lack of water in the river. The state Commission on Water Resource Management asked Wailuku Water Co. and Mahi Pono to divert flows on Oct. 28 and 29 for the project….
Chumbley said his company’s temporary diversion for the 22-foot fish ladder project, made of PVC pipe, tarp and sandbags and ordered by the state, was illegally removed Oct. 28. There also has been vandalism with chains cut to close valves and rock walls built, he said.
Chumbley said vandalism has occurred on Wailuku Water Co. land before, typically during “periods of high emotions and reactions".
“Obviously, it was one of those times,” he said. “Because of the native fish deaths, it riled people up. They felt empowered that they could go in and trespass and do criminal property damage’ not just to a private property’ but to a public utility.”
Chumbley said he has evidence in multiple incidents, adding that he doesn’t want to have to contact authorities.
“I may have to call Maui Police Department and report criminal trespass and criminal damage, but I don’t want to do that,” he said….
(Translation: I am covering this up.)
Hokuao Pellegrino, board president of Hui o Na Wai `Eha, a group that works to protect and restore four Central Maui streams including the Wailuku River, said his group does not sanction illegal actions….
read … Water supply impacted by redirection of river
MT: ‘The Community Is At A Breaking Point’: Last week’s massive ‘o‘opu fish kill reignites conflict over Wailuku River (Maui Time: The voice of Hysteria.)
* * * * *
'O'Opu Fish Kill on Wailuku River
News Release from DLNR October 31, 2019
Yesterday, a video documenting a substantial fish kill of native ‘o‘opu (gobies) at the mouth of the Wailuku River was brought to the attention of the Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM). On Monday, CWRM began the installation of a fiberglass fish ladder on the face of the 22-foot vertical concrete wall located within the river’s flood control project just below the Market Street bridge.
With the assistance of the Wailuku Water Company and Mahi Pono LLC, streamflows were reduced to provide a safe work site for the contractors to install the fish ladder. CWRM issued an order to temporarily suspend the interim instream flow standard (IIFS) for the whole week beginning October 28, so that less water would flow downstream to facilitate installation.
The installation was completed late Tuesday afternoon and both companies were notified. Today CWRM officially notified both companies to reinstate the IIFS and return full regulated flow to the stream. Water was returned to the river by Mahi Pono on Wednesday morning and by the Wailuku Water Company earlier today at CWRM’s request.
Notwithstanding that low flows continued uninterrupted through the project site for the duration of the project, it appears they were insufficient to reach the stream mouth to sustain fish life. Staff from the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) has discovered smaller die-off events resulting from low rainfall and declining streamflows during summer months, but the greatly reduced streamflows in connection with the fish ladder project, exacerbated conditions resulting in this large fish kill.
CWRM Chair Suzanne Case said, “It is obviously ironic that our project to improve stream habitat for ʻoʻopu appears to have resulted in loss of hundreds of fish. We regret this situation and express our sincere apologies to the Wailuku River community for these events. The Commission thanks the community for its support of the fish ladder installation and will continue to work towards improving stream channel conditions in the Wailuku River.”
CWRM received funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2015 to improve biological connectivity in the river, following up on the findings of the Commission’s Nā Wai ‘Ehā contested case hearing that identified the 22-foot vertical structure in the flood channel as an obstacle to the upstream migration of the native ‘o‘opu.
SA: State accidentally wipes out hundreds of native oopu in Wailuku River
MN: Against the current, Hawaii’s ‘o‘opu navigate turbulent waters to recovery
* * * * *
NEARLY 150 WEDGE-TAILED SHEARWATERS KILLED BY DOGS OR CATS
Four Locations on Kaua‘i Involved this Nesting Season
News Release from DLNR October 31, 2019
(Li‘hue) – Off-leash dogs and feral cats are responsible for the massacre of between 140 and 150 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (ʻUaʻu kani) on Kaua‘i during this year’s nesting season. The shoreline burrowing seabirds are easy prey for both dogs and cats. In the most recent incident, earlier this week at least 35 birds were found dead.
The kill was reported by a concerned person, and staff from the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP) responded to the incident on behalf of the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW). Shearwater carcasses were found strewn along the cliffs over a large area.
Abby Kreuser, of KESRP, was one of the staff members who responded to the incident. She said, “It was a really horrific scene. There were dead birds everywhere and most of them were chicks that were only a few weeks away from fledging. It looks like a large proportion of the young birds from the colony have been wiped out, as well as many breeding adults”.
This is not the first year this particular colony was decimated by predators. Six years ago, 80 shearwaters were killed by cats and dogs over a two-month period. Although shearwater kills unfortunately happen every year on Kaua‘i, this year has been particularly bad. There have been four reported mass killings, including another incident at a separate colony on the south shore where at least 55 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were killed.
“These kinds of incidents happen annually, and our shearwaters cannot withstand such a high level of predation,” said Dr. Andre Raine, KESRP Project Coordinator. “We urge people to keep their dogs on leashes in coastal areas and keep their cats indoors.
Kaua‘i is important for a wide range of native wildlife, including seabirds and endangered waterbirds. People are encouraged to report any wildlife killings to the 24-hour DOCARE (Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement) hotline at 643-DLNR or via the DLNRTip app.