Attorney: Water commission ‘wilted’ – The Maui News


Panel: Decision strikes a balance between values, responsibilities

By ILIMA LOOMIS, Staff Writer

The state Commission on Water Resource Management on Thursday ordered 12.5 million gallons of water per day be allowed to flow in the Na Wai Eha streams in the West Maui Mountains, about one-third of the amount that had been proposed.

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The commission majority said the decision represented a balance between the values and responsibilities the law required them to consider. Chairwoman Laura Thielen said in a statement that even if 100 percent of the water were diverted, it would still not be enough to meet demands.

But contested hearings officer Lawrence Miike, also a commission member, issued a scathing dissenting opinion that accused the water panel’s majority of protecting the interests of private corporations over the public streams.

"By its decision, the majority has failed in its duties under the constitution and the state water code as trustee of the state’s public water resource," Miike wrote.

Na Wai Eha decision released by state water panel – The Maui News


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.

Na Wai Eha decision released by state water panel – | News, Sports, Jobs, Visitor’s Information – The Maui News