The debate over the future of Molokai is usually framed as a conflict over lifestyle and culture, and those are valid things to debate, but we shouldn’t forget that Molokai has barely enough water for “the good old days,” and not enough for even slow development.
By EDWIN TANJI, For The Maui News
POSTED: August 28, 2009
There may be plenty of water on Maui.
There is not enough cheap water – not when an extended period of abnormal rainfall places much of the island in drought and not when Hawaii law and court decisions require reallocation of access to the cheap water.
That’s not how state water commission hearings officer Dr. Lawrence Miike put it in his proposed findings and recommendations on setting stream flow standards for Na Wai Eha, the four major streams at Waihee, Waiehu, Wailuku and Waikapu (hawaii.gov/dlnr/cwrm/currentissues/cchma0601/CCHMA0601-01.pdf).
But his analysis, including a synopsis on the evolution of Hawaii law on water rights, helps to explain the issue. His history doesn’t go into detail but that was not its purpose.
The Miike findings note that sugar planters in the mid-1800s were granted rights to divert water from streams by the Hawaiian monarchy, but say nothing about whether the monarchy tempered effects on downstream users.
In the post-overthrow era, Miike notes the territorial Supreme Court turned out rulings that treated water as property of landowners. But after World War II, the legal standing of water was modified by other court decisions until the 1978 Hawaii Constitutional Convention added a section that established water as a public trust.
The constitutional amendment led to a State Water Code – Hawaii Revised Statutes 174C – and sets up the Commission on Water Resource Management to create and enforce standards on use of the islands’ water resources.
Recovery Act Funds Will Help Improve Infrastructure Across Rural America
Na Kupaa O Kuhio (Kakaina) – $541,000 direct loan and $377,800 grant
Na Kupaa O Kuhio (Piilani) – $471,000 direct loan and $339,000 grant
WASHINGTON, August, 25, 2009 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of $175.8 million in water and environmental projects that are being funded immediately through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The projects will help provide safe drinking water and improved wastewater treatment for rural communities in 27 states. To date, USDA has announced $1.47 billion for water and environmental project loans and grants through ARRA, benefiting communities throughout the country.
“The Recovery Act water and wastewater projects we are announcing today support the Obama administration’s goal of rebuilding and revitalizing the nation’s rural infrastructure,” Vilsack said. “This funding will provide reliable drinking water and sanitary waste disposal while creating and saving jobs in rural America.”
MPL is held legally responsible for the actions of its utilities.
County of Maui Press Release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 13, 2009
The First Circuit Court ruled on July 15, 2009 that Molokai Properties, Ltd. (MPL) is legally responsible for the actions of the Molokai utility companies whose stock MPL owns. The appeal arose out of MPL’s threat last year to shut down water and wastewater utilities providing service to some 1,200 Molokai residents.
Report No. 08-03 February 2008
Marion M. Higa
Office of the Auditor State Auditor
465 South King Street, Room 500
State of Hawai?i Honolulu, Hawai?i 96813
(808) 587-0800 FAX (808) 587-0830
We conducted this audit in response to Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 176, of the 2007 legislative session. The Moloka’i Irrigation System provides about 1.4 billion gallons of water annually to its users. Construction was started in 1957 to bring water from the eastern end of Moloka’i to the central farming areas as part of a federal and state commitment to native Hawaiian homesteaders. The system consists of collection dams and deep wells; a transmission tunnel, pipes, and flume; a reservoir; and distribution pipes to customers. Among the customers is the Moloka’i Ranch, via a rental agreement.
We found that while the Department of Agriculture inherited a broken system, little has been done to learn about system problems or to create a plan to address them. The department received historical data on the system from the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and yet it was not clear that department personnel understood the significance of its history. Numerous studies recommended management and operational improvements. For example, problems reported in a 1987 study still exist today, unadressed.
The department?s flawed management endangers agriculture in Moloka’i. It has been unable to reconcile its responsibilities as stewards to the irrigation system and obligations to the Hawaiian homesteaders. While it recognizes the homesteaders’ two-thirds water preference accorded by Section 168-4, HRS, this is not reflected in any planning. Non-homestead farmers consume approximately 80 percent of the system’s available water. Effectively, the two seemingly complementary responsibilities have become competitors with the needs of the homesteaders subsumed to the interests of larger agricultural business.
By CHRIS HAMILTON, Staff Writer
WAILUKU ? The state auditor issued a blistering report last week charging the state Department of Agriculture with mismanaging the Molokai Irrigation System while simultaneously allowing it to deteriorate over a period of decades.
The irrigation system is crucial to the island?s agriculture-based economy but draws only about 4 million gallons a day ? less than 10 percent of its projected capacity when it was first planned.
?We found that while the Department of Agriculture inherited a broken system, little has been done to learn about system problems or to create a plan to address them,? state Auditor Marion Higa wrote in her 57-page report. ?The department?s flawed management endangers agriculture in Molokai.?
However, state Agriculture Chairwoman Sandra Kunimoto called most of the report?s criticisms ?overreaching? in a telephone interview Friday.
She said she felt as though the report?s dramatic statements weren?t backed up by the actual details contained within it.
By HARRY EAGAR, Staff Writer
WAILUKU ? Steve Holaday, the former manager of Maui?s last sugar plantation, testified at Thursday?s session of the Na Wai Eha contested case that more is involved than allocated water from four West Maui watersheds.
?My fear is that no matter what happens here, it?s going to be the triggering event for what happens to use in East Maui, and the triggering event for the rest of the state. This is the tip of the iceberg.?
The result, Holaday said, could be the collapse of agriculture throughout the islands.
THE MOLOKAI DISPATCH
In the 1960?s the largest rubber-lined reservoir in the world was built on Molokai supplying Hawaiian Homestead farmers with irrigation water. The massive project tunneled through the island?s main mountain range to brining water from Molokai?s wet north side to the arid plains of Ho`olehua. The project is known as the Molokai Irrigation System (MIS).
In 1975 a water use agreement was formed between the State and developers of the Kaluakoi Hotel. The agreement, still in effect today, allows Molokai Ranch to transport well water from Central Molokai to West Molokai using the MIS.
The current agreement is under scrutiny as a new amendment has been proposed. An upcoming public meeting on Wednesday, July 18 will provide a forum for the details which allow Molokai Ranch the lease of MIS facilities.
The following is an overview of the original agreement and its proposed amendment. Also discussed are concerns of the Molokai Homesteaders and Farmers Alliance, who are advocating a return of the MIS to its intended purpose ? agricultural use.
*The Original Agreement*
In order to supply their development, Kaluakoi planners proposed to lease MIS pipelines. The State believed that by leasing MIS lines to the developers, the people of Molokai would receive profits and revenue beneficial to the island?s economy.
A contract was created that allowed Kaluakoi developers to lease a portion of the MIS for an annual rate of $45,000 during the first 10 years. After that, the amount was to be adjusted in accordance to any increases in the County?s domestic water rates.
In compliance with state regulations, Kaluakoi developers constructed two service connections: one for injecting water into the system, and one for drawing it out.
The developers were permitted to withdraw the equivalent amount of the water they injected. Overall amounts withdrawn could not exceed two million gallons per day.
While the State did agree to provide reasonable maintenance of the system, it also stated that it would not be held ?liable for any interruption, shortage of any loss or damage occasioned thereby.?
In the case of a drought or other emergency conditions, the State reserved the right to prioritize service to MIS consumers over Kaluakoi users. The State also reserved the right to terminate its agreement with Kaluakoi at any time (with a two year notice) if it was determined that ?the capacity of the system is not sufficient to meet the needs of the public for agricultural purposes.?
During the course of the contract, MIS authority was transferred from the Board of Land and Natural Resources to the Department of Agriculture (DOA) (July 1, 1989).
The 20-year contract expired on Dec. 31, 1995 and has since been renewed. When Molokai Ranch acquired the Kaluakoi Resort?s 4,100-acre property in 2001 it also inherited the MIS lease.
Between 1995 and 2006 the contract was extended four times.
*The Current Amendment*
In early 2007 Molokai Ranch and DOA drafted a major amendment to the existing MIS use agreement. The amendment is being discussed and reviewed by community members including: Molokai Homesteaders and Farmers Alliance (MHFA), Molokai Ranch, the MIS board and the Department of Agriculture.
Homesteaders are arguing that the amount withdrawn by MPL be lowered by nearly half. Right now there is a two million gallons per day withdrawal limit which was based on what was thought to be the capacity of the Ranch?s water sources. MHFA points out that this estimate is no longer accurate.
Homesteaders are concerned that the Ranch could use MIS pipelines to transfer water to future developments. The original agreement limited water supply to the Kaluakoi area. The proposed amendment no longer identifies specific locations. Homesteaders want to continue regulating transmitted water to Kaluakoi.
The amendment also suggests that if MIS water should become scarce, the system would have the option of purchasing water from the Ranch?s Well No. 17 supply. But homesteaders disagree. They say purchasing water from the Ranch should never be an option. ?If you need water from [the Ranch], you are mismanaging the MIS,? states a MHFA proposal.
According to the proposed amendment, the Ranch could build its own pipeline from Well No. 17 to the Mahana Pump Station on the west end bypassing MIS facilities altogether. If the Ranch fails to construct the pipeline by 2011, it is stipulated that the current agreement could be extended until 2016.
Homesteaders want the agreement terminated without renewal at the end of the contract. This would force the Ranch off the system within five years. It would allow for the MIS to return to its intended use, servicing Hawaiian homesteaders and farmers.
? 2006 THE MOLOKAI DISPATCH
Pacific Business News (Honolulu) – 9:28 AM HAST Wednesday, June 13, 2007
by Howard Dicus
The Maui Department of Water Supply has declared a drought in Upcountry Maui, imposing mandatory water restrictions, while dry conditions are getting worse on the Big Island.
Maui officials Tuesday imposed 10 percent water restrictions on nonagricultural users in Haiku, Haliimaile, Kanaio, Keokea, Kula, Makawao, Olinda, Omaopio, Pukalani, Pulehu, Ulupalakua, and Waiohuli, but gave farmers 30 days grace.
Here is the PDF file for the *Hawaii Crop Weather* (crop progress and condition) Report for the week ending *June 10, 2007*
Please visit http://www.nass.usda.gov/hi/ for more information.
USDA NASS Hawaii Field Office
1421 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96814-2512
Weather conditions had a variable effect on agriculture during the week ending Sunday, June 10. High pressure to the north and low pressure to the south resulted in a week of light to moderate trade winds with mostly light, passing showers. Most of the shower activity was limited to the northern islands during the first half of the week and shifted to the southern half of the State during the weekend. These passing showers occurred in windward areas and the higher elevations with some lighter amounts being blown over to the leeward side of the islands. Conditions were particularly dry on the Big Island where temperatures reached new daily highs on Monday and Wednesday. The Mayor of the County of Hawaii declared a State of Emergency on June 5 due to the continuing dry weather. A voluntary 10-percent reduction in water usage was in effect for the districts of North and South Kohala, Hamakua, and Ka`u. A mandatory 25-percent reduction in water usage was in effect for the following specific areas of the Big Island: Waimea Town to Kawaihae, Upper Pa`auilo, and Ahualoa. In addition, the State Department of Agriculture continued to place users of the Honokaa-Paauilo irrigation system under a mandatory 30-percent water conservation notice due to damage sustained from the October 15, 2006 earthquake. Users of the Waimea irrigation system were asked to voluntarily cutback irrigation water usage by 10 percent. Overall, recent weather conditions have had a variable effect on agriculture. Non-irrigated crops, those dependent on natural rainfall, were in fair to poor condition. Crops located in windward areas were faring better than those in the drier leeward areas of the island. Irrigated crops were in fair to good condition. Abundant sunshine and adequate irrigation was ensuring normal growth. Spraying for insects and disease continued on a regular schedule.
Orchards in eastern sections of the island of Hawaii were in fair to good condition. Mostly sunny days facilitate field operations, but soil moisture was declining. Banana Bunchy Top virus incidences remain isolated in the Puna and Kona areas. Oahu orchards were in fair to good condition. Fields in windward areas remained in fair condition. Banana Bunchy Top virus continued to affect fields. Leeward and central Oahu fields made good progress, but were also slowed by light Banana Bunchy Top virus damage. Irrigation remained at moderate to heavy levels during the week due to the dry days.
Big Island orchards were in fair to good condition. Soil moisture decreased and additional rain is needed to raise soil moisture to more satisfactory levels. Mostly sunny days dominated the week, but some light showers were beneficial. Fruit development and ripening were good on Oahu. However, mealy bugs and ring spot virus in some fields kept production lower than anticipated. Orchards on Kauai continued to make fair to good progress during the week. Spraying to contain the insect population was stepped up to contain the increased infestation.
The crop in the Big Island?s Waimea area was in generally good condition. Light insect damage on outer leaves was noticed. Irrigation ensured normal crop progress. The Volcano crop was experiencing slow progress due to dry conditions. Maui?s crop continued to make good progress. Warm temperatures stressed some lower elevation fields, but generally those fields were in good condition. Insect pressure and damage was light, but elevated in some fields. Head size was large. On Oahu, insect infestation was at light levels and mostly under control. New plants were in good condition.
Young planting in eastern sections of Hawaii County made slow progress. Newly seeded beds have gaps in the rows due to seedlings dying for lack of moisture. Light showers during the week provided some relief. Beneficial weather conditions allowed the plants to make good progress in central Oahu fields. Windward fields made good progress during the week and are expected to be harvested at moderate to heavy levels.
Pickings from most Oahu fields were at moderate to heavy levels and anticipated to continue increasing as plants were in active harvest. Melon fly infestation and light pickle worm damage has affected crop yields in some areas during the week. Irrigation levels remained heavy as the dry weather continued in most crop growing areas.
Maui?s crop benefited from the dry weather and regular irrigation. Growth and development was good in most fields, although the warm temperatures have started to detrimentally affect some fields by slowing growth. Quality of harvested bulbs has reportedly been very good.