Completed in 1906, the 22.5 mile Kohala Ditch is the lifeline for agriculture in North Kohala. The massive 2006 Kiholo Earthquake nearly destroyed this engineering marvel. In 2010, repairs to the massive earthquake damage were completed, water was flowing again to the thirsty fields and livestock of Kohala and a commemorative plaque was placed on the concrete wall where the ditch crosses Kynnersley Road. So everyone went home and relaxed, right? Not quite. Some jobs just seem to never end. While repairing the Ditch has been and continues to be a major undertaking, insuring its long-term viability is an equally daunting task.
The Kohala Ditch is not just a historical artifact; it’s critical to the future of sustainable diversified agriculture in Kohala. It is a legacy project; essential to what Kohala has been, is today and will be in the future. From those who created the ditch with 19th century technology, back-breaking labor, and in 17 cases, their lives, to the Steering Committee members whose commitment brought the Ditch back to life after the earthquake, many hands have contributed to North Kohala’s most enduring legacy. Now, the Kohala Ditch Foundation’s steps forward to tackle the mission of protecting and advocating for this precious legacy.
The Kohala community rallied a massive effort to bring the Ditch back to life after the 2006 quake, raising nearly $5.5 million in government and private funds for repairs. In 2010 the non-profit Kohala Ditch Foundation (KDF) was established with the goal of assuming operational and fiscal management of the Ditch. The KDF is tasked in its Mission Statement with insuring the long-term viability of the Ditch: “To protect the Kohala Ditch as a reliable agricultural water transmission system in the district of North Kohala to support diversified agriculture and agricultural-related projects.”