Congresswoman Hirono Fights for Hawaii Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Projects

Washington, Jun 16 Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) today won strong bipartisan support for an amendment she introduced to the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill that restores $3 million in funding to the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program. This valuable federal program, which has been in existence for almost 60 years, was zeroed out in FY2011 and in the bill under consideration today. The amendment passed by a vote of 288-132, with 107 Republicans voting aye. Congresswoman Hirono’s was one of only three Democratic amendments to the bill, which passed by a recorded vote.

“This program supports our state and local governments’ ability to improve agricultural water delivery systems for farmers in Hawaii – especially along the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island and in upcountry Maui, and in developing flood protection infrastructure for Hilo and Lahaina,” said Congresswoman Hirono.

This federal program focuses on water development and conservation projects in authorized watersheds as well as projects to prevent erosion, floodwater, and sediment damage.

Hawaii currently has four authorized projects under this program with federal funding commitments of $34 million.  The projects are as follows:

  • The Upcountry Maui Watershed (irrigation) project will benefit more than 170 farmers with approximately 500 acres of high-value truck and ornamental crops.
  • The Lower Hamakua Ditch Watershed project is projected to eventually irrigate approximately 2,500 acres of cropland.
  • The Lahaina Watershed project will protect about 200 homes, 35 condominiums, 160 commercial buildings, and 4 public facilities within the floodplain.  Hotels, recreation, and other visitor industries will also benefit from reduced sedimentation along the shore.
  • The current project area of the Wailuku-Alenaio watershed encompasses approximately 540 acres of rural and agricultural lands in the Kaumana Drive area of Hilo. Approximately 62 percent of the project area is in agricultural use, 16 percent in residential use, and 22 percent in public and other land uses.

“Diversified agriculture is so important to Hawaii.  I’ve met with farmers across the state and support this program because of them,” said Congresswoman Hirono.