Water Commission hearings scheduled this week through Thursday from 9am to 4pm at the Cameron Center in Maui.
After years of waiting, East Maui hui’s case finally being heard
Guest Blog: Kamakakoi : The Cutting Edge
Ola i ka Wai: Water is Life from Kamakako’i on Vimeo.
The fate of an entire community and their environment is being decided in this room. Farmers from East Maui are fighting to amend instream flow stream standards so they can continue to farm kalo on their land, as their ʻohana have done for centuries. Meanwhile, stream beds have been tapped completely dry by greedy corporations.
Your support is needed. Please support East Maui farmers in the largest contested water rights case in Hawaiʻi by attending the Water Commission hearings scheduled this week through Thursday from 9am to 4pm at the Cameron Center in Maui. Get educated, take action & spread the word at KAMAKAKOI.com. Full details available at http://ow.ly/K7OMD. #olaikawai #maui #kamakakoi
Declaration and Pledge
Recognizing the necessity of protecting water as a public trust resource for current and future generations, and having deep concerns about the mismanagement of this resource to the detriment of the public, we pledge to:
· Support the restoration of flows to Hawai‘i’s rivers and streams.
· Urge that the trustees of our most precious resource (the Commission on Water Resources Management) be qualified, just, and accountable.
· Make our voices heard through this petition to the Governor, the Commission on Water Resources Management Chair, the Senate President, and other related decision makers.
KAHULUI (Mar. 2, 2015) — This month, the State Commission on Water Resource Management will re-engage a case that’s been languishing for years. It involves ʻohana from Honopou to Wailuanui in East Maui who have been farming kalo for centuries. The law is on their side, yet compliance with the law remains elusive. At issue are their legally protected rights to have healthy streams flowing through their communities and to use the water and resources associated with those streams, issues that were originally brought to the attention of the Water Commission back in 2001.
The hui (group) of kalo farmers that has come together to restore stream flow to East Maui streams is Nā Moku Aupuni o Koʻolau Hui. They are represented by attorneys of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, an entity that is provided funding by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
The rights of the East Maui families originate from kānāwai—traditional laws set forth by aliʻi nui (ruling chiefs) for the management and use of fresh water—which were codified in early laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The same rights are preserved today in the Hawaiʻi State Constitution (Article XII, Section 7 and Article XI, Sections 7 and 9 ) and Water Code (HRS Chapter 174C).
These laws protect streams, ensuring that they have adequate water flowing through them to support:
‣ The cultivation of healthy crops, including loʻi kalo on kuleana
‣ Thriving stream life
‣ Thriving ocean life, which is dependent on freshwater
‣ Families exercising their traditional and customary rights to gather resources supported by freshwater, including resources to feed their families
‣ Community members enjoyment of stream recreation activities
‣ Adequate recharge of underground aquifers
‣ Domestic uses
‣ Beautiful, healthy environments
The problem is that the legal rights of these East Maui ʻohana have not been respected or honored.
East Maui Irrigation (EMI)—a subsidiary of Alexander and Baldwin—extracts about 160 million gallons of water daily from over 100 East Maui streams through its extensive ditch system, some of which is extracted from 33,000 acres of “ceded” lands held by the state. EMI does not hold a long-term lease or license to extract water from these 33,000 acres. However, the State Department of Land and Natural Resources continues to allow EMI to access these lands and extract water for their commercial use, notwithstanding the impacts to the stream and the people that rely upon it.
Additionally, the Water Commission, charged with upholding the state’s Water Code, has allowed these diversions to persist without adequate consideration for the needs of the Hui and other members of the public.
Nā Moku’s case before the Water Commission seeks to have Hawaiʻi’s laws enforced, which would provide the people of East Maui a fair share of water from the streams in their communities.
If Nā Moku is successful in the March hearing, the outcome would provide kalo farmers an opportunity to sustain invaluable traditions, restore ecosystems, and reinvigorate their communities united by a common resource enjoyed and cared for by all—the richest resource of any community—its healthy, abundant water supply. These are rights they are already granted by law. It’s now up to the Water Commission to ensure these rights are realized.
1. Attend the contested case hearings on Maui that are currently ongoing.
2. Attend one of the Commission on Water Resource Management water resource protection plan community meetings. The water resource protection plan is the state’s overarching planning document for the management and use of our water resources. Updates to the plan may include new estimates of sustainable yield for our aquifer systems, which the water commission takes into account when deciding whether and how to regulate water use. For example, when anticipated water needs/demands from development proposals approach sustainable yield, the water commission may begin requiring and overseeing water use permits to ensure that the public trust in water is upheld. So far, sustainable yield estimates have not taken into account the need for ground- and stream-water flow to support natural resources, ecological systems (including the nearshore area), as well as constitutionally protected traditional and customary practices. In addition, sustainable yields may need to be adjusted to account for the impacts of reduced rainfall patterns, sea level rise, and other new information and data. YOUR VOICE may be necessary to ensure that updates to the state water resource protection plan, including sustainable yields, take into consideration the importance of protecting public trust uses of water (including cultural and ecological benefits) for our present and future generations. If you are unable to attend the meeting in your area, you can email email Jeremy Kimura or Sherri Hiraoka and share your mana’o on the water resource protection plan.