After nearly 20 years of working to protect Maui waterways, OHA praises Na Wai Eha ruling

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(File)(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 10:16 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is praising the decision to protect flowing rivers and streams on Maui.

OHA said the commission’s decision on Na Wai Eha is the first time that Native Hawaiian kalo cultivation has received priority in water allocation.

The organization spent 17 years working towards preserving streams that had been controlled by sugar plantations for decades.

“Yesterday’s decision and order marks yet another crucial development in the push for pono water management in Na Wai Eha,” said Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey, OHA board chair.

“The Water Commission has now come to its conclusions on water use permit applications intended to provide an appropriate level of priority for Native Hawaiian kalo farmers and kuleana owners in the allocation of water from these streams.”

Maui officials said the decision will have a positive ripple effect on waterways across the island.

“Not only does this allow us to distribute now and in future to customers, but it allows us to realize the $21.5 million investment in water treatment plant capacity which was increased to process this water,” said Caleb Rowe, a deputy at the Department of Corporation Counsel.

OHA said they are continuing to review the 400-page decision and are meeting with attorneys to discuss any remaining concerns.

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