The state Commission on Water Resource Management has ordered 12.5 million gallons of water per day be restored to the Na Wai Eha streams, about one-third of the water that was being considered for restoration a year ago.
The decision released on Thursday addresses a years-long effort by environmental and Native Hawaiian groups to force former sugar plantations and the County of Maui to put back some of the water being diverted from four streams that run out of the West Maui Mountains to Central Maui.
Under the order:
- Waihee stream would be restored to 10 million gallons per day.
- North Waiehu stream would get 1.6 mgd.
- South Waiehu stream would get 0.9 mgd.
- Iao and Waikapu streams would remain at current levels.
Approximately 60 million to 70 million gallons per day are diverted from Na Wai Eha, or the four waters of the West Maui Mountains. In April 2009, Water commission hearings officer Dr. Lawrence Miike issued a "proposed decision" to restore 34.5 million gallons to the streams.
Throughout the dispute, environmentalists and Native Hawaiian groups have argued that restoring water to the streams is necessary for taro farming and to provide habitat for aquatic life. Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar has argued the water is critical for already tenuous sugar farming operations.