After lengthy trial, judge rules diversion of East Maui streams are within reason

After lengthy trial, judge rules diversion of East Maui streams are within reason
East Maui streams were the focus of recent litigation brought on by the Sierra Club. (Source: DLNR)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A judge has ruled that water is not being wasted by stream diversions in East Maui.

In a weeks-long trial that started in August last year, the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR), Maui County, Alexander and Baldwin and East Maui Irrigation defended diversion actions.

The suit was brought on by the Sierra Club. The defendants were accused of violating public trust for how they used the stream water, such as agriculture, residential use, firefighting, dust suppression and other commercial reasons.

The court ruled that water use supported public interest by providing jobs, food sustainability and and strengthened the state and county economies.

Since the end of sugar cane production on Maui, the diversion of water has been a contentious debate. The judge however pointed out the BLNR’s responsibilities under the trust, which “imposes a dual mandate on the State to both protect water resources, and to make maximum reasonable beneficial use of the State’s water resources.”

“Water is obviously fundamental to everyone. East Maui has a long and challenging past, but we’re dealing with the present and the future. The BLNR and CWRM (Commission on Water Resources Management) have worked long and hard to meet their constitutional obligations and statutory mandates to protect our public trust resources and allow for sustainable use. Careful balancing is key,” DLNR and CWRM Chair Suzanne Case said.

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