Tuesday, Mar 22, 2016
Where: Moloa’a, Hawaii
Problem: The Moloa’a Irrigation Cooperative (MIC) could not provide safe drinking water to its customers.
Solution: RCAC staff helped MIC become a regulated public water system and to meet clean drinking water standards.
Moloa’a, on the island of Kauai, was at one time a sugarcane and then papaya plantation. Today, the land is divided into small farms tended by farmers and workers who come from Micronesia and Southeast Asia, and many residents have developed other businesses, such as cheese production, rambutan and pineapple orchards, and farmer’s markets.
The water system was originally used mostly for irrigation but with so many residential farmers and farmworkers now in the area, it was required to become a regu¬lated public water system to ensure that the water is safe to drink. RCAC staff worked with MIC beginning in September 2015, to help it become a regulated public water system. However, since MIC was not designed to be a Public Water System, they were not able to meet the total coliform rule, and a “Do Not Use” order was placed on the system. RCAC met with community members to discuss a plan to bring MIC into compliance and to help the community understand that treatment was necessary.
To improve MIC’s operations, RCAC provided basic board managerial training and helped members to understand their future obligations. RCAC also helped them find a licensed operator for the community’s aging water system, which needs substantial repairs to its pipes, tanks, chlorination treatment and backflow equipment, and assisted the utility in meeting water quality tests, as well as agreeing upon an improvement plan with state regulators.
RCAC helped MIC develop an agreement with the Hawaii Safe Drinking Water Branch to address the deficiencies. RCAC staff designed, obtained approval from the Safe Drinking Water Branch for this substantial modification, and installed a chlorination system. The water quality samples taken recently met safe water regulations, and the “Do Not Use” water order was lifted.
The MIC system still needs substantial improvements but, importantly, MIC is now in compliance with public health regulations.
“The assistance and support we have received from RCAC has been so valuable,” said Louise Wooton, MIC’s secretary. “Joy from RCAC has mentored us every step of the way with requirements, timelines and deadlines.”