- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) - State officials have announced the completion of a multi-million dollar project to prevent flooding and protect endangered species in the Hanalei Stream.

Among those who celebrated the culmination of the state-sponsored restoration project Friday included taro farmers, state leaders and engineers, The Garden Island reported (http://bit.ly/1MGkdzD).

Carty Chang, chief engineer of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said the work on the Hanalei Stream has had a positive impact on the surrounding community.

“Without this work, to repair the streambank, flooding of adjoining properties would continue to be a risk, the taro loi would be in jeopardy due to insufficient water and habitat for endangered Hawaii waterbirds in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge would be negatively impacted,” said Chang.

The repairs were necessary in order to fix a breach in the Hanalei bank from 20 years ago. The break diverted water from the stream, often flooding nearby properties after heavy rains. It also reduced stream flow entering an intake pipe that funneled water to Hawaii’s largest taro growing complex and provided habitat for endangered native birds.

The state Legislature provided DLNR with millions of dollars for the project in 2011.

“There were many challenges in undertaking this project, however, by working closely with stakeholders and the community, we are confident the streambank restoration will restore adequate flows for farmers and the wildlife refuge, and reduce the amount of sediment flowing into Hanalei Bay,” Chang said.

DNLR will monitor the new improvements over the next three years.

Hanalei is one of only two Environmental Protection Agency National Heritage rivers west of the Rockies.

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Information from: The Garden Island, http://thegardenisland.com/

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