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Mud Plume at Baldwin Caused by HC&S Siphon Break at Kailua

April 24, 2014, 5:52 PM HST · Updated April 25, 10:17 AM
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HC&S sugar cane fields in Kahului. Photo by Wendy Osher.

HC&S sugar cane fields in Kahului. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

A portion of the Hāmākua Ditch across the Kailua Gulch in East Maui broke on Thursday, April 24, resulting in a “mud plume” in the ocean near Baldwin Beach Park, the Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company said.

The break occurred in an elevated portion of the Hāmākua Ditch, which collects water from East Maui streams for irrigation to company cane fields.

Thr company says clean water from the Hāmākua Ditch overflowed into the Kailua Gulch, picking up dirt and debris as it flowed toward the ocean.

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“Upon discovery of the break, flow was immediately stopped to that portion of the ditch. The cause of the break is still under investigation,” HC&S said in an email communication.

“We are truly sorry for any inconvenience this break has caused the community,” said HC&S General Manager Rick Volner in a statement.

“We do our best to maintain the 72 miles of ditches, flumes and tunnels that comprise our East Maui water delivery system, but as with anything that is over a hundred years old, there are going to be breaks. We expect that the mud plume will dissipate over the next few days, just as when heavy rainfall creates similar plumes,” said Volner.

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“In the meantime, as with heavy rains, it’s normally advised that people stay out of the water near such plumes,” Volner said.

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