A bridge off Peahi Road above the Kaupakalua Reservoir and Dam (Kehaulani Cerizo/The Maui News Via AP)
The State of Hawaii has not shown up on this blog before, but last week’s dam breach and evacuations have earned it a coveted spot.
On March 8, the Kaupakalua Dam in Maui overtopped, prompting evacuation orders downstream. The 138-year-old earthen dam overtopped during heavy rains and is scheduled to be removed this summer.
According to the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, the dam’s owner was sent a notice of deficiency in early 2020 that set a schedule for addressing its deficiencies, and in October the owner submitted an application to remove it entirely. In February 2021, the Department issued a formal Notice of Violation for failing to install a real-time reservoir water level gauge with readings accessible on the internet. This is required by state statutes. Apparently, the previous gauge was stolen in 2018.