The Maui News
February 6, 2012
HONOLULU - Gov. Neil Abercrombie is releasing more than $13 million for various capital improvement projects that invest in Hawaii's agriculture industry and upgrade water infrastructure, including money for the aging Molokai irrigation system.
Abercrombie said he will release $1.25 million for planning, design and construction to replace Molokai's above-ground concrete flume with an underground pipeline. The plans include installation of a new hydropower plant. And then there's structural stabilization work for an access bridge.
The Legislature had previously approved the projects, but for years now state Rep. Mele Carroll and Sen. J. Kalani English, who both represent Molokai in their districts, have pushed for the release of funds to make irrigation improvements on the Friendly Isle. The projects will cost millions more to complete, according to earlier projections.
But Abercrombie said in a statement issued Thursday that sustainable agriculture is "critical to our food security" and part of his New Day Work Projects plan.
"Much of the state's agricultural infrastructure is decades old, and it is important to maintain and upgrade them and keep them in service to Hawaii's farmers, growers and ranchers, now and for the future," said Russell Kokubun, chairman of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.
Most of the money goes to Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island. But another $2.5 million is for statewide irrigation reservoir improvements, including land acquisition, design and construction. And $1 million more goes toward a state agricultural water use and development plan, such as finding new water sources.
© Copyright 2012 The Maui News.