Jimmy Pflueger demands hundreds of thousands from the state

Published On: Dec 23 2013 09:56:40 PM HST   Updated On: Aug 12 2013 08:27:26 PM HST

When the Ka Loko Dam on Kauai breached, it sent 400 million gallons of mud, rocks and water raging down the valley, killing seven people.

Seven years later, and less than a month after dam owner Jimmy Pflueger was convicted of reckless endangerment, he's not only still blaming the state, he's demanding it pays up.

"The state of Hawaii continues to utilize the water and Kilauea Irrigation Company continues to supply the water. So, we're looking, not at past actions, we're looking at what might happen in the future," said Pflueger's attorney Bill McCorriston.

Pflueger said the state has been selling water from his dam to local farmers for decades, but still taxing him thousands for dam operations and maintenance.

In a March 2013 letter, he told the Department of Land and Natural Resources:

"I have received nothing, but am accused of everything. You owe me more than I owe you."

He then sent the state a bill for $240,000: $1,000 a month, for the past 20 years.

Attorney Bill McCorriston said over the years, the state and the company responsible for maintaining the ditches that connect to Pflueger's dam have failed to do their share.

He said the bill is for something of a piggy bank for future potential problems.

"The water gates are in disrepair, the ditch is in disrepair, trees are growing in the ditches," said McCorriston.

In a June 2013 response letter, DNLR director William Aila told Pflueger he's responsible for any problems, but the state is still waiting for an emergency plan in case something does go wrong. Adding:

"We decline at this time to respond to other statements in Mr. Pflueger's letter. Silence does not signify agreement."

"They're all leaving this up to Mr. Pflueger to solve a problem that really isn't of his own creation. That's not fair and ultimately if it takes a lawsuit that's what will happen," McCorriston said.

McCorriston said since the breach, the reservoir was dug deeper and rerouted to avoid potential future flooding.

To this day, Pflueger maintains he never did any illegal grading, nor tried to cover up the spillway.

McCorriston said even is there was a spillway, it wouldn't have worked anyway, because he said, the surrounding area was blocked by trees and other debris.

As for Pflueger's $240,000 bill to the state, the DLNR said on Monday: "A response is neither necessary nor warranted for such claims. He has no authority under the law to make these monetary claims. "

Pflueger and his attorneys said they have yet to receive a direct response from the state and would prefer to reach a deal instead of resort to a lawsuit, but are considering action in the near future.


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