Saturday, April 11, 2009

Maui's Na Wai Eha Water Issue May Soon be Resolved

On March 13, 2008, the Commission on Water Resource Management designated the Waihee, Waiehu, Iao, and Waikapu Surface Water Hydrologic Units (a.k.a., Na Wai Eha) as surface water management areas. See Surface Water in Waihee, Waiehu, Iao, and Waikapu Streams on Maui Designated as State Surface Water Management Areas.  

The Commission's historic surface water determination (the first surface water management area determination in the Commission's history) was made in the context of the ongoing contested case hearing involving a petition to restore flows to the Na Wai Eha streams and applications for hydraulically related water use permits from diked, high-level water in the mountains.  

Stakeholders include the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. ("HC&S") who used the lions share of Na Wai Eha's water for sugar and more recently land development, local taro farmers and other small farmers, and the endemic and indigenous critters living in the unnaturally bone dry streams where they used to thrive.  The crux of the issue before the Commission is how to fairly reallocate approximately 70 million gallons of water diverted from the streams, in a post monoculture Hawaii.

A hearings officer was appointed to prepare a findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decision and order, which must be approved by the Commission at an upcoming meeting.  The Hearing Officer's Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Decision and Order was issued on Apr. 9, 2009.

Chris Hamilton of the Maui News breaks down the 210-page report in his article, Plan could rejuvenate waters of Na Wai Eha.

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