- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) - The Kauai Board of Water Supply voted to suspend a $1.9 million contract for a drilled well project.

The board voted Thursday to suspend the Kahili Horizontal Directional Drilled Well Project, even though the first phase is already underway.

The Department of Water said the department is too short-staffed and there’s too much uncertainty about monetary savings to justify moving forward. The department previously said the estimated $60 million project to drill a 12,000-foot-long, high-elevation well would allow access to clean, high-level water at its source.

“There is risk involved with this project, as with all vertical wells,” wrote Keith Aoki, department project manager and engineer, in a letter to the board. “The actual yield is not known until you actually drill the well and test it.”

The decision comes two months after an aggressive crowd of more than 100 people took over an informational meeting on the proposal, prompting officials to shut it down before the presentation began, The Garden Island (https://ow.ly/v8nha ) reported.

About $530,000 of the contract has already been paid to Mears Group, Inc. Department spokeswoman Kim Tamaoka said the department would notify the consultant about the cancellation and the contractor would submit a closing cost.

A March 7 letter from Jim Williams of the Mears Group said the public meetings have been “dominated by fringe members of the public who stage public tantrums and rely on intimidation and disruption to achieve their goals.”

Board member Michael Dahilig said he supported shelving the proposal because of strained resources and because such projects require a lot of community development support.

Ray McCormick was one of two dissenting votes. He said it makes more sense to see the contract through to its conclusion so that questions can be answered. An environmental impact study would determine whether the project has the negative impacts some in the community claim, he said.

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

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