Restoration to the Hanalei Stream Bank is expected to complete by the end of the year.

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For almost 20 years, Kauai taro farmer Rodney Haraguchi and nine other farmers who have loi on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge have experienced diminished water flows from the Hanalei River.

“You know, like any farmer, without water you cannot plant any taro or harvest; water is the life-line for our crops,” Haraguchi said.

The cause for the embankment to breach, which lead to diminished stream flows, is unknown at this time.

Some speculate it was the aftermath of a massive landslide far upstream in one of the mountain valleys.

AECOM Technical Services, Inc. was contracted by the DLNR Engineering Division to design the current stream bank restoration project.

“What happened was, eventually the farmers started noticing less water coming into their farms. We need the volume to get around a bend where the inlet pipe is located. By losing water through part of the stream bank that breached, the farms and wildlife refuge have not received the volume of water they need,” said Ardalan Nikou, the senior engineer for the project.

The stream bank restoration involves building an earthen berm to minimize the amount of silt and brown water that flows from the construction site, downstream, and into Hanalei Bay during heavy rain events.

According to Carty Chang, administrator of the DLNR Engineering Division, Hanalei Bay would continue to be in jeopardy if they had not done the project – the breached channel would continue to erode and deposit sediment into the Bay.

“While it’s impossible to provide a 100 percent silt-proof system in a high-energy river like Hanalei Stream, we’re confident the stream bank restoration project will have the intended result of restoring adequate flows for farmers and the wildlife refuge, as well as reduce the amount of sediment from flowing into Hanalei Bay during and after rain events,” Chang said.

Haraguchi is hopeful that Hanalei Stream will soon return to its natural course and normal flow.

“For 20 years, we farmers have been up in the air about the water flow,” he said. “It’s been like a big dark cloud over Hanalei,and now, it’s about to lift.”