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Work to fix quake damage to Waikoloa Reservoir still on hold

Department of Water Supply officials are still working on repairing damage from the October 2006 earthquakes.

Engineering Division Head Kurt Inaba told Water Board members last week the design for repairs to Waikoloa Reservoir No. 1 are still “in the state’s court.”

County, state and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials were supposed to have a telephone conference to discuss the project in late July, but the call was scheduled for the day Tropical Storm Flossie was predicted to make landfall, and the call was postponed.

DWS spokeswoman Kanani Aton said the call has been tentatively rescheduled for next week. Aton said FEMA officials have expressed some concerns about the lengthy delay between the damage, nearly seven years ago, and work getting started. FEMA officials told county officials they may have to consider decreasing the amount of reimbursement for the repairs because of the lengthy delays, officials said at last week’s Water Board meeting.

A FEMA spokeswoman said Wednesday the Department of Water Supply has received an extension to complete the work by Feb. 7, 2014.

“In general, applicants have 18 months to complete permanent repairs to facilities following the date of declaration for an event,” spokeswoman Mary Simms said in an email to West Hawaii Today. “They can then apply for a time extension for up to an additional 30 months from the Grantee (Hawaii State Civil Defense). If they cannot complete the repairs in the first 48 months they can apply to FEMA for additional time based on extenuating circumstances.”

DWS ran into a number of extenuating circumstances following the earthquakes. Two Waikoloa reservoirs sustained damage in the earthquakes, and Aton said it wasn’t feasible for the department to close both for simultaneous repairs. Instead, the department opted to fill Reservoir No. 1 to half capacity, keeping it in service while the county began repairing Reservoir No. 2, which sustained significantly more damage.

Work on Reservoir No. 2, a 50-million-gallon, open-air reservoir, was completed in early 2011. That project cost $2.7 million. At the time it was completed, the department was hoping to finish Reservoir No. 1 by the end of 2012.

Design for the Reservoir No. 2 repairs took until 2009 and required approvals from a number of state and federal agencies. The Department of Land and Natural Resources introduced new regulations for embankments, following a fatal dam collapse on Kauai in 2006. The department also recorded roughly 200 days between November 2009 and June 2010 in which construction was delayed because of weather or material delays. The rain made compacting the soil surrounding the reservoir to the grade required by DLNR difficult, Aton said in 2011.

DWS is still waiting to see if there are any new impacts on the Reservoir No. 1 project from the Endangered Species Act and National Historic Preservation Act requirements, Aton said Tuesday.

“State Civil Defense is trying to coordinate all discussions with FEMA,” Aton added. “It’s all these checks and balances.”