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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 3, 2010

Funding cited in Kā'u well delays

By Peter Sur
Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Insufficient funding is the cause of delays in building the Ocean View-Kahuku water system, the manager of the Hawai'i County Department of Water Supply said.

Milton Pavao was answering a query from a state House committee formed to find out what happened to $6 million in state funding to build the well and storage system in Ka'ū.

The water department in 2006 received the money to develop a well and storage system large enough to service four water-hauling trucks simultaneously.

The exploratory well construction, Phase 1, was designed by SSFM International and completed in February 2009.

The investigative committee is composed of nine state representatives, including all seven from the Big Island.

"We want to know what happened to the taxpayers' money and why aren't the people in Ocean View getting water," Rep. Bob Herkes, the committee chairman, said in April.

Pavao wrote in a letter to the editor, published May 1, that the department welcomes the investigation to show that "we have handled the project professionally, competently, with a sense of urgency, in accordance with all rules and regulations, and in rigid conformance with the procurement code."

The reason for the changes and delays, Pavao wrote in a May 21 letter to Herkes' committee, is that the $6 million is not enough to meet the needs of the community.

Bolton Inc., the contractor, is close to completing the design of Phase 2 (to develop a well, reservoir and fill station) and will begin construction as soon as the necessary approvals and permits are granted.

Part of the problem is that, since about 2006, construction bids have often come in 50 percent or more above the budgeted amount, Pavao said. "This information is provided as a probable cause to why there was not adequate funding to build the entire project as outlined in the EA (environmental assessment)," he said.