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Waipahu… Recollections from a Sugar Plantation Community in Hawaii

By Michael T. Yamamoto, Nina Yuriko (Ota) Sylva and Karen N. Yamamoto 

The town of Waipahu derives its name from the spring Waipahu. The Hawaiians relished the cools and clear waters coming from the spring and named it: Wai meaning water and pahu meaning to burst or gush forth.

When the Oahu Sugar Co. began in 1897, the output of the spring was estimated to be 42.5 cubic feet per second! In 1907, the Oahu Sugar Co. constructed a tunnel adjacent to Pump 8 to tap the spring discharges in the area for sugarcane irrigation in the area. At the time, the output was estimated to be 15.5 cubic feet per second (or 10 mgd)! The Board of Water Supply of the City and County of Honolulu calls springs discharges in the area Waikele Spring. The tunnel is sealed with a large boulder today and since the area has been restored to its pre-tunnel condition, the spring “leaks” at an estimated 3 cubic feet per second (or 2 mgd). The source of the water is the Waipahu-Waiawa aquifer.