Maui News

East Maui Kōlea Reservoir Removal Proposed

June 7, 2011, 7:43 AM HST
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By Wendy Osher

Kōlea Reservoir, Photo credit: Final Environmental Assessement, submitted by state Department of Accounting and General Services, prepared by Oceanit.

The state Public Works Division is proposing the removal of the Kōlea Reservoir located along the windward coast of Maui in the Hāna District.

The structure, built in 1901, was used in the past to divert agricultural irrigation water to the East Maui Irrigation ditch system. Since water from the reservoir is no longer needed for irrigation, the state proposes its removal to allow the unobstructed downstream flow of the Kōlea Stream.

The reservoir remediation is proposed not only to return the stream to its natural state, but also to remove any potential safety hazards for the public.

The reservoir is located between Makaīwa and Honomanū Bays. The mouth of the Kōlea Stream empties into the ocean via a waterfall onto a boulder beach below.  Crews plan to replace the reservoir area with a 15-foot wide channel.


Research into the land use patterns of the surrounding vicinity were detailed in the FEA document.  The research reportedly indicates that the area was used for pre-contact agricultural pursuits, permanent and temporary habitation, traditional ceremonies, as well as taro and rice cultivation.  According to the FEA, previous historical findings around the site have been destroyed by plantation activities, thus adverse impacts were not anticipated.


As a part of a cultural survey, families of the area expressed interest in edible bamboo shoots that grow around the Stream, which are harvested regularly.  While access to the bamboo forest will remain unblocked under the plan, proper safety precautions are advised in the construction area.

The diversion structure located downstream of the dam (Center Ditch) which is operated by East Maui Irrigation Company (EMI) will remain in place as part of the irrigation system, and is not part of the proposed project.  The project is also not related to the on-going implementation of Interim Instream Flow Standards (IIFS) in East Maui.

The project, including mobilization and construction is projected to take six to seven months to complete.

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