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‘Water fiasco’ on Maui leaves residents feeling mistreated, unfairly targeted

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 6:27 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 12, 2021 at 7:48 PM HST
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UPCOUNTRY, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A water conservation alert is in effect for Upcountry Maui residents.

Leeward coastlines around the state are abnormally dry. However, Maui County is the worst, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

County officials say a majority of Maui County is in moderate to severe drought. Because of that, residents are being told to hold off on washing cars or watering lawns.

If they violate the rules, they can be fined — up to $500.

Meanwhile, about 8,000 people a day are flying into Maui and staying at hotels with high water demands.

Some Maui residents feel residents are being treated unfairly.

“It has nothing to do with me personally, I don’t live Upcountry. But I’m from Maui and they’re just mistreating the residents,” said Maui mixed martial artist Kendall Grove, who has been vocal about the issue on social media.

Grove is used to fighting in the octagon. Nowadays, he says he is fighting for his fellow Valley Isle residents.

“This water fiasco that’s going on is just the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said. “Enough is enough. As big of a platform as I have, I’m gonna try my hardest to fight for my kids. Fight for your kids. Regardless of if you like me or not, I’m here for our kids, our future.”

A Stage 1 water shortage declaration went into effect on July 2 for Upcountry residents.

County officials declined Hawaii News Now’s request for an interview. However, they said in a news release that the alert is because of dry conditions and high water use in the area.

“Some of these people Upcountry, they farm, they have livestock, they have countless things that they need the water for. And you’re going to fine them?” Grove said.

County officials say another factor for the alert is because the Department of Water Supply’s Piiholo Water Treatment Plant raw water reservoir in Olinda is well below 50% capacity.

Maui resident Cullan Bell says the restrictions feels like a double standard.

“The hotels and golf courses, watering multiple times a day. Watering the grass multiple times a day, and locals are going to be fined for washing their vehicles is just mind blowing to me it’s like the final hit,” said Iao resident Cullan Bell.

County officials said a Stage 1 water shortage exists if the water director determines that anticipated demand in the area is projected to exceed available supply by 1 to 15%.

Former State Rep. and Maui resident Kaniela Ing said it is an issue that has been going on for years.

“The truth is, we’ve had generations to plan for this and these are not only not getting solved, but they’re even getting worse,” Ing said. “As long as we rely on tourism as our staple piece of our economy on Maui, this will continue. All the attention between who we are prioritizing... the tourists or the local residents?”

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