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Residents of Hawaii’s Kawela Plantation Unite to Move Forward

February 25, 2010 |

Where: Kawela Plantation, Molokai, Maui County, Hawaii

Problem: Water outages, failing wells, poor sanitation, lack of management expertise
Solution: Comprehensive capacity analysis, strategic planning, board training, new operators, operator certification, networking with Hawaiian water community
A drilling rig preparing to drill a new well
To the Kawela Plantation Homeowners’ Association, the Hawaiian proverb “Pupukahi i holomua”has special meaning. It refers to the teamwork required to paddle a canoe. The association adapted it to describe the teamwork it took to save a weakening water system. By uniting its board of directors, general manager, water system operators and RCAC technical assistance providers, the association now provides sustainable, safe, clean and affordable drinking water to residents.

The association had experienced water outages, failing wells and a lack of proper sanitation. For many years, the utility had not been properly maintained or operated. Homeowners with no expertise in running a water system oversaw operations. When water stopped flowing to some homes, the association often did not know what to do.

The association contacted RCAC, the Western RCAP, in Hawaii. RCAC worked with the association to conduct a thorough capacity analysis in the technical, managerial and financial areas of the water system. Together they developed a strategic plan that addressed all managerial and operational matters.

New water system operators made operational changes that ended water outages and upgraded their own skills and qualifications. Water waste dropped by nearly two-thirds, and an emergency-response plan is in place. The board is proactively planning further improvements to reliability, capacity and source water protection.

“We absolutely could never have made the progress we have without the help and involvement of RCAC… They have saved us a great deal of money and have helped us avoid pitfalls that would have been expensive and time-consuming,” said the association president.