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Pflueger says state owes him $240,000 for water from dam

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 1:55 a.m. HST, Aug 14, 2013

A retired car dealer who pleaded no contest to reckless endangerment in a deadly Kauai dam breach has billed the state $240,000.

James Pflueger has demanded the state pay for water it has been selling from his dam to local farmers for the past 20 years, KITV reported Monday.

Seven people were swept to their deaths in 2006 when 400 million gallons of mud, rocks and water raged down the valley because the Ka Loko dam broke on Pflue­ger's property.

The 87-year-old land­owner pleaded no contest last month in a deal with prosecutors to drop seven manslaughter counts.

His attorney, Bill McCorriston, said the state of Hawaii continues to use the water, supplied by Kilauea Irrigation Co.

In a March 2013 letter, Pflue­ger 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 $1,000 a month for the past 20 years, or $240,000 in total.

The department said Monday that Pflue­ger has no authority under the law to make these monetary claims and that a response wasn't necessary or warranted.

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 resorting to a lawsuit but are considering action in the near future.

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

The bill is for something of a piggy bank for future potential problems, McCorriston said.

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

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

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