Excerpt from civilbeat.org
Demand for the staple crop of the traditional Native Hawaiian diet is growing, farmers say, and about a dozen farms in Waimea struggle to keep up — optimistic circumstances for any food producer.
Yet today’s generation of taro farmers in arid West Kauai worry about the future of a cherished way of life.
A proposed renewable energy project promises to supply up to a quarter of the island’s total power usage by diverting 4 billion gallons of water a year from the Waimea River and its tributaries. Residents who rely on the watershed for fish, to grow much of the food they eat or for commercial crop production fret about the effects of these diversions on the river’s health.
Conceived in 2012, the West Kauai Energy Project is an integrated pumped storage hydropower, solar and battery project — the first of its kind in the world. Water diverted from the watershed using plantation-era ditch systems would move between preexisting reservoirs to produce power on cloudy days and at night, reducing the island’s reliance on fossil fuels when the sun doesn’t shine.