Maui water decision gets criticism from all sides - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Maui water decision gets criticism from all sides

DLNR Chair Laura Thielen DLNR Chair Laura Thielen
Benjamin Christopher Benjamin Christopher

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A state decision to force a Maui sugar plantation to share its water source is attracting criticism from all sides, including Maui's mayor. The state water commission ruled that the Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company (HC&S) must restore water to six east Maui streams according to a seasonal schedule.

HC&S says losing that water will make it hard to stay in business, and Mayor Charmaine Tavares says it could be devastating to nearly 10,000 residents, farmers, businesses and schools in upcountry.

The plan is meant to provide water to small farmers, nd during wet seasons more water would go into streams to help reinvigorate fish life.

"We've opened the door now to studying seasonal flows, and it's possible as we get better measurements and better information, we can adapt flows, we don't even have to do wet and dry seasons, we can do it quarterly" said Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairperson Laura Thielen.

"This is a company that lost $45 million in the last couple years primarily because of a lack of sufficient water. Now that was caused by a drought, this is a different kind of loss of water but instead of a natural drought we're looking at a regulatory drought" said Christopher Benjamin, HC&S Plantation General Manager.

The Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation says the water order is still not enough and will challenge the ruling. Maui County is considering joining the lawsuit. 

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Fight over water rights brewing on Maui

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