East Maui Streams
The precedent setting Hawai‘i Supreme Court decision over Na Wai Eha reopened the State Water Commission’s review of adequate stream flow in 27 streams in East Maui, now diverted by East Maui Irrigation. Maui Tomorrow is representing the interests of native flora and fauna habitat; ongoing watershed health; and families dependent on a fair share of those waters for their homes, farms, recreation and aesthetic enjoyment. Our ally, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation is representing cultural and traditional interests. Hearings began in early 2015 and will continue with a possible appeal by A&B of a recent decision made by Oʻahu Circuit Court Judge Rhonda Nishimura. Judge Nishimura ruled that A&B permits for diverting millions of gallons of stream water on public trust lands (which has occurred for over 100 years) could be invalidated.
So whatʻs happening in our Legislature?
In both the Senate and the House, there are bills that address “holdover permits” for those revocable permit holders who are in the process of applying for a renewal on their revocable permits. Essentially, that would allow those who have water permits to hold them in perpetuity through a combination of revocable and holdover permits.
IS our Legislature trying to bypass a judicial ruling?
PLEASE submit testimony on these bills by signing up for an account at: capitol.hawaii.gov, then clicking ʻSubmit Testimonyʻ. Input the bill number (you may only comment on one at a time) and follow the prompts.
Feel free to use any or all of the points listed below in your testimony opposing these bills.
5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT
SB3001 & HB2501 HD1
1) DLNR will be able to issue “holdover permits” to current revocable (short-term) water permit holders UNTIL their pending longterm lease applications are approved.
Perpetual renewal of short-term permits would allow EMI/A&B/ HC&S to continue illegally diverting water from East Maui streams FOREVER, while they continue to fight against court-ordered restored stream flows.
2) Rejecting this bill will not mean that upcountry farmers and water users will not have any water. The judge who recently ruled the permits for EMI/A&B/HC&S invalid, granted the County a “pass” to keep its systems ruling until the licenses are resolved.
3) These bills would create a loophole around a well-established process for requesting agricultural access to PUBLIC water.
How can the state fulfill its Kuleana to uphold the Public Trust Doctrine without a process containing transparency?
4) These bills contradict long-standing public policies in place to protect streams, fresh water and traditional farming practices.
5) These bills only reward larger interests who have been manipulating the permitting system for years. Court decisions will mean nothing and farmers would have to continue waiting for water.
Sign Sierra Club Hawai’i’s petition: