East Maui watershed fencing crew
Image: The Nature Conservancy

Environmental advocates and farmers are cheering the release of $8.1 million in CIP funds for statewide water and energy upgrades.

“These funds support my administration’s commitment to being responsible stewards of the environment, while also furthering the creation of local jobs as part of a sustainable economy,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie in a news release.

In addition to the $2.5 million in CIP funds added this year for watershed protection, the $8.1 million will refurbish aging water transport systems, helping farmers respond to four years of severe to extreme drought that has plagued the Hamakua and Kohala areas of the Big Island and leeward Maui.

Forty-one percent of the funds will go to Big Island projects, including $2 million for improvements to the crucial Waimea Transfer Ditch and $300 for repairs, removal of sediment and adding new distribution lines at the lower Hamakua Ditch. Despite its mention as a funded project in the Governor’s announcement, a new hydropower plant in Waimea’s irrigation system has been cancelled.

Seventeen percent of the monies will go to up-country Maui water lines, while Waiahole water system on Oahu will get $57,000. Energy upgrades for public buildings, receive $3.3 million.

–Doc Berry