PAIA – The state Commission on Water Resource Management will hold two days of hearings starting Wednesday on competing applications for withdrawal of water from Na Wai Eha, the surface water collection system that serves Central and South Maui.
During earlier proceedings, the commission received applications from existing users to continue withdrawing water pending a final commission decision on allocating the water resource. Most of the applications have been challenged because there likely will be less water allocated by the commission than the total of present withdrawals, even before applications for new uses are considered.
Starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Paia Community Center, the commission will hear testimony from users to justify the reasonable and beneficial uses they intend for water.
The commission staff will present a new map, which graphically represents the users’ locations and the ditches and gates where they seek to draw off the water. Commission staff member Roy Hardy said the map should help sort out exactly which applications are in conflict.
Two commissioners, Neal Fujiwara and Sumner Erdman, will conduct the hearings.
The state says Wailuku Water Co. and Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. will begin releasing water to Waihee River and North and South Waiehu Streams in central Maui next week.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources says the companies next Monday will act to comply with a state water commission order issued in June.
But the move is unlikely to satisfy two Maui groups who want the companies to return more water than the commission ordered.
Hui o Na Wai Eha and Maui Tomorrow appealed the water commission’s ruling in state court last month.
They say they’re being deprived of the water they need to grow taro and restore natural habitat.