The Kauai Department of Water wished to reduce energy usage in its Lihue-Kapaa water system by drilling a horizontal gravity flow well to supply water. The location for the directionally drilled exploratory well was explored at the 800 to 1,200-foot elevation in the land divisions of Wailua, Hanamaulu, and Haiku. At this high elevation, the water can flow by gravity and has the potential to produce energy through the development of a hydroelectric plant.
Oceanit conducted the hydrogeologic investigation, prepared an environmental impact statement (EIS) and other environmental permitting, and coordinated the public outreach. The EIS included a flora/fauna study, cultural impact assessment, archaeological inventory survey, cost analysis study, and water resources study. The public outreach included meetings with affected politicians and various cultural, business, and environmental groups and meetings with individuals with known interests in Kauai development, water, and cultural issues.
Selecting a well site proved challenging as it required careful analysis of geology, hydrology, and access for heavy equipment. While the idea of drilling a horizontal well to supply gravity flow water was very innovative, there were community concerns that well would severely impact water and cultural resources. In addition, there were public concern regarding the cost of the project.
To solve the challenge of locating an appropriate site, four possible sites were selected for the project based on geology, water availability, and access. Extensive public and agency consultation was conducted to identify and address community concerns. A prominent economist prepared a detailed cost analysis to alleviate concerns about the project cost.