Call to stop HB2501 – water theft bill


Healoha Carmichael, a Native Hawaiian gatherer, stands in Honomanu Stream in East Maui near her home. The stream is completely dry due to Alexander and Baldwin’s water diversions. Carmichael and her ‘ohana face significant hardship in gathering food to feed their ‘ohana because of the diversions.

Tell Your Senator To Ask Senator Jill Tokuda Not To Hear HB 2501!



Thank you for supporting the restoration of East Maui streams. The fight to protect East Maui kalo farmers and families is just beginning.  In the coming weeks, we are going to need your help to defeat HB 2501 because we are up against a multi-billion dollar corporation.

HB 2501 would allow, Alexander and Baldwin, a private corporation to continue de-watering the streams of East Maui despite having no use for this public water.  HB 2501 is still working its way through Hawaii’s legislative process. We need your help to stop this bill.

On March 21, 2016, HB2501 was amended by the Senate Water, Land, and Agriculture Committee.  The amendments appear to acknowledge the harm and injustice of the current diversions because they seek to shorten the time Alexander & Baldwin is allowed to take all the water from East Maui and appropriate funds to the Department of Land and Natural Resources so that it can properly administer the law.  While these amendments may make the bill less egregious, it is not enough to address the incredible harm long-suffered by residents and farmers who do not have access to sufficient water on a daily basis because A&B takes so much water from East Maui streams.


Before a corporation diverts water from a stream, it must prove its diversion will not cause harm to downstream users. A&B has never done this. A&B has used BLNR’s illegal “holdover” authorization to avoid ever having to prove that its diversions cause no harm. Manipulation of the process has allowed A&B to divert millions of gallons of water every day regardless of the consequences. This must stop.


  • HB2501 is tailor-made for A&B. It is the only entity with a “holdover” revocable permit and it is the only entity with a pending water lease application before the BLNR.
  • HB 2501 would reward a multi-billion dollar corporation for improperly taking water from the public, even if the courts conclude that the water diversions are illegal. The bill attempts to interfere with the judicial process and short change East Maui kalo farmers.
  • Giving A&B three more years to complete a process that started 15 years ago is UNFAIR – particularly after they have admitted that they do not need as much water as they have been taking. And they have not used the time they already had wisely. Where is the EIS? Where are the stream measurements?
  • Temporary bills do not address the issue.  They have a tendency to last a long time. Often the Legislature will repeal the provision to terminate a law at a later date.

There is no reason to continue this injustice any longer.
The next step for the bill is the Senate Ways and Means Committee. East Maui residents and their supporters from across the Hawaiian Islands are currently working to convince the Chair of WAM to not hear HB2501.

You can help by contacting your own senator right now and asking him or her to ask Sen. Jill Tokuda to NOT HEAR HB2501 (phone numbers at the bottom).


Baker, Rosalyn H.
Phone 808-586-6070
Fax 808-586-6071
District 6 South and West Maui

Chun Oakland, Suzanne
Phone 808-586-6130
Fax 808-586-6131
District 13 Liliha, Palama, Iwilei, Kalihi, Nu‘uanu, Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Lower Tantalus, Downtown

Dela Cruz, Donovan M.
Phone 808-586-6090
Fax 808-586-6091
District 22 Mililani Mauka, Waipi‘o Acres, Wheeler, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, portion of Poamoho

English, J. Kalani
Phone 808-587-7225
Fax 808-587-7230
District 7 Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Kaho‘olawe

Espero, Will
Phone 808-586-6360
Fax 808-586-6361
District 19 ‘Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, ‘Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ‘Ewa Villages

Gabbard, Mike
Phone 808-586-6830
Fax 808-586-6679
District 20 Kapolei, Makakilo, and portions of ‘Ewa, Kalaeloa, and Waipahu

Galuteria, Brickwood
Phone 808-586-6740
Fax 808-586-6829
District 12 Waikiki, Ala Moana, Kaka‘ako, McCully, Mo‘ili‘ili

Green, Josh
Phone 808-586-9385
Fax 808-586-9391
District 3 Kona, Ka‘u

Harimoto, Breene
Phone 808-586-6230
Fax 808-586-6231
District 16 Pearl City, Momilani, Pearlridge, ‘Aiea, Royal Summit, ‘Aiea Heights, Newtown, Waimalu, Halawa, Pearl Harbor

Ihara, Les Jr.
Phone 808-586-6250
Fax 808-586-6251
District 10 Kaimuki, Kapahulu, Palolo, Maunalani Heights, St. Louis Heights, Mo‘ili‘ili, Ala Wai

Inouye, Lorraine
Phone 808-586-7335
Fax 808-586-7339
District 4 Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona

Kahele, Kaiali’i
Phone 808-586-6760
Fax 808-586-6689
District 1 Hilo

Keith-Agaran, Gilbert S.C.
Phone 808-586-7344
Fax 808-586-7348
District 5 Wailuku, Waihe‘e, Kahului

Kidani, Michelle N.
Phone 808-586-7100
Fax 808-586-7109
District 18 Mililani Town, portion of Waipi‘o Gentry, Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia

Kim, Donna Mercado
Phone 808-587-7200
Fax 808-587-7205
District 14 Kapalama, ‘Alewa, Kalihi Valley, Ft. Shafter, Moanalua Gardens & Valley, portions of Halawa and ‘Aiea

Kouchi, Ronald D.
Phone 808-586-6030
Fax 808-586-6031
District 8 Kaua‘i, Ni‘ihau

Nishihara, Clarence K.
Phone 808-586-6970
Fax 808-586-6879
District 17 Waipahu, Crestview, Manana, Pearl City, Pacific Palisades

Riviere, Gil
Phone 808-586-7330
Fax 808-586-7334
District 23 Kane‘ohe , Ka‘a‘awa, Hau‘ula, La‘ie, Kahuku, Waialua, Hale‘iwa, Wahiawa, Schofield Barracks, Kunia

Ruderman, Russell E.
Phone 808-586-6890
Fax 808-586-6899
District 2 Puna, Ka‘u

Shimabukuro, Maile S.L.
Phone 808-586-7793
Fax 808-586-7797
District 21 Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Ko ‘Olina, Nanakuli, Ma‘ili, Wai‘anae, Makaha, Makua

Slom, Sam
Phone 808-586-8420
Fax 808-586-8426
District 9 Hawai‘i Kai, Kuli‘ou‘ou, Niu, ‘Aina Haina, Wai‘alae-Kahala, Diamond Head

Taniguchi, Brian T.
Phone 808-586-6460
Fax 808-586-6461
District 11 Manoa, Makiki, Punchbowl, Papakolea

Thielen, Laura H.
Phone 808-587-8388
Fax 808-587-7240
District 25 Kailua, Lanikai, Enchanted Lake, Keolu Hills, Maunawili, Waimanalo, Hawai‘i Kai, Portlock

Tokuda, Jill N.
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 207
Phone 808-587-7215
Fax 808-587-7220
District 24 Kane‘ohe, Kane‘ohe MCAB, Kailua, He‘eia, ‘Ahuimanu

Wakai, Glenn
Phone 808-586-8585
Fax 808-586-8588
District 15 Kalihi, Mapunapuna, Airport, Salt Lake, Aliamanu, Foster Village, Hickam, Pearl Harbor

If you aren’t sure who your Senator is, visit the Hawai‘i Capitol website.

East Maui Water Under Renewed Attack by A&B

The people of East Maui have long awaited the full return of water to their streams. Almost all of their water has been taken by Alexander & Baldwin Company, which has been diverting millions of gallons of water every day for decades primarily for its commercial sugar production. We know there is more than enough water to ensure diversified agriculture (including hemp) on Maui, for healthy streams and a vibrant taro-growing community. There is more water flowing through the streams of East Maui every day than is consumed on the entire island of O‘ahu. Now that A&B has announced its last sugar plantation will close by the end of 2016 and the courts have ruled the state improperly allowed A&B to continue diverting water from public land without permits, we expect the streams to flow again.

But the streams have not been fully restored. Despite ongoing litigation which has invalidated their water permits in addition to an incomplete contested case, A&B is using its billion-dollar political influence to aggressively pursue a bill in the state legislature to evade a court ruling against them. Proposed measure HB2501 would allow A&B to divert an unlimited amount of water indefinitely without environmental review or mitigation for the harm to East Maui residents who rely on that water for drinking, bathing, cooking, and growing taro.

To begin to restore the balance in our environment and justice in our community, A&B’s “water theft” bill (HB2501) cannot be adopted into law. The only way we will be able to defend the public right to water is through massive public participation in the legislative process.

It is not impossible. Just this year, massive public opposition stopped the forced sale of Hawaiian trust lands and the senate version of this awful “water theft” bill, SB3001. We can do it again and we must.

For the health of our streams, for public water rights, for the success of our taro farmers, please take action today to stop HB2501.

To stop HB2501, we urgently request that House Finance (FIN) Chair Sylvia Luke, Vice Chair Scott Nishimoto, and East Maui Representative Lynn DeCoite, do everything in their power to ensure this bill does not advance. We know they are sympathetic to our concerns, but also know that A&B is exerting a lot of pressure to pass this bill. Keep in mind that the FIN Committee can decide to pass HB2501 without taking any additional testimony. So it is crucial to contact these Representatives now, and let them know they have the public’s support to permanently stop HB2501.

Click here to send testimony Kahea has already written (with the option to edit and make it your own)! Make sure to mention if any of the committee members are your district representatives! You can also share this link on social media to get your friends and family to submit opposition too!

If instead you want to send your own e-mail, read on for facts to help you craft your own letter, as well as relevant contact information. Please remember to let them know if you are in any of their districts!

Check out these resources for background information about this historic fight:
Timeline created by the Sierra Club
Excellent video by Kamakako`i: hear from the farmers who need our help


The Public Trust doctrine prioritizes customary, traditional practices and the health of native streams and coastal life over private commercial uses. If passed, this bill would allow commercial users to divert millions of gallons of public water per day and avoid protections for both Hawaiian and public water interests indefinitely, with no limitations on the amount or duration of the diversion.

Current A&B diversions remove almost all water from several East Maui streams leaving dry rock beds and stagnant water, however the practice has never undergone any type of environmental review. This bill circumvents public trust protections by allowing private users to evade Environmental Impact Studies (EIS) and Environmental Assessments (EA) required for revocable permits.

A&B does not need public water. A&B holds 33,000 acres in Central Maui of which 23,000 are designated Important Agricultural Lands (IAL.) Court documents submitted by A&B indicate there are 132 million gallons per day available from their existing private sources.

Demonstrating a severe lack of stewardship over their private water, A&B loses an average of 41 million gallons per day mostly due to unlined reservoirs and aging pipes. The remaining 91 million gallons of water per day average would be more than sufficient to meet the approximate water duty for A&B water and land commitments in East Maui.

A&B recently declared plans to harvest its last 17,000 acres of cultivated sugarcane by the end of 2016 and expressed the intent to convert those fields to diversified agriculture in the future. Diversified agriculture needs less than half the water for sugarcane or about 2,500 gallons of water per acre per day. With an average of about 42.5 million gallons of water per day for diversified agriculture on all cultivated acres and a $2 million annual contract with the County of Maui to supply 9 million gallons of water per day for Upcountry residents, 91 million gallons of water per day would more than sufficiently satisfy approximate A&B irrigation needs. Even if A&B were to grow on 30,000 acres, they only need about 75 million gallons of water per day to cultivate diverse crops.

A&B could seek the same relief the County of Maui received in Circuit Court by requesting a stay of enforcement while they appeal the Circuit Court’s invalidation of their holdover status. A&B would simply need to explain to the Court how much water they need and why, as the County did. Since the 1980’s, A&B has paid the State of Hawai‘i only $160,000 for use of 33,000 acres of public land, and 164 million gallons per day on average of diverted public water in East Maui alone. This bill would continue to subsidize the profits of a multi-billion dollar company receiving special status over the interests of the public trust.

FIN Chair: Representative Sylvia Luke, District 13, Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa 808-586-6200

FIN Vice Chair: Representative Scott Nishimoto, District 21, Kapahulu, McCully, Moiliili 808-586-8515

East Maui Rep: RepresentativeLynn DeCoite, District 13 Haiku, Hana, Kaupo, Kipahulu, Nahiku, Paia, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Moloka’i, Molokini 808-586-6790

Email all the members of the Finance committee at:

You can help inspire others to participate by also sending your testimony to the editors of our local publications:

“Show Me the Water” was thoroughly researched – doesn’t need changes

The Council’s Water Resources Committee (with Michelle Anderson as chair)  issued a report in 2007 summarizing the in depth consultation that resulted in the County’s Water Availability policy being adopted in December of 2007.
Even a brief read of it illustrates the hard work, broad range of input and broad support this law had.
In summary, the WR committee met at least 14 times between July 2005 and the end of 2007 to shape this policy and sought out in depth input from state and county agencies and departments resulting in many revisions.
In contrast, the mayor appointed a small advisory committee with a one-sided perspective that  met 4 times in 30 days, consulted only with the present water director, included no input from Hawaiian Homes, OHA, native Hawaiian practitioners, housing non-profits, state DOH or any other agency involved with water management, and concluded from that limited input that:
“Task Force acknowledged that the SMTW (show me the water) enacted in 2007 did nothing to incentivize workforce housing. While the Task Force considered many amendments, including repealing the law from the Maui County Code, it decided to take a more conservative approach at this time that would likely receive broad based support and promote the development of housing projects.”

Here is the 2007 report summarizing all the research that the Council did to craft a good ordinance.

New Maui Water Study

At the request of the Ulupono Initiative, Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, Jackson School of Geosciences has studied Maui’s water availability.

A Systems Approach for Investigating Water, Energy, and Food Scenarios in East-Central Maui


“The water availability for different scenarios is based upon the precipitation, surface water, and groundwater on the Eastern (Haleakala) portion of Maui. Most of the 330 million gallons per day (MGD) of average surface water runoff is already used for some purpose (see Figure E-1). While there appears to be a large amount of groundwater resource available, the costs are prohibitive for accessing the bulk of that water. Many new water supplies such as more pipelines, groundwater wells, reclaimed water facilities, and desalination are constrained by the available capital required to invest in new fresh and potable water sources. There is some opportunity to recover more wastewater that is already being reclaimed. Two strategies, (i) increased water conservation and demand management and (ii) increased wastewater treatment for reclaimed water use, have been determined to be the most promising options for matching Maui potable water demand with supply”

“in an average rainfall year, 30,000 acres of sugar cane in Central Maui cannot be sustainably fully irrigated….

Fully irrigating 23,000 acres of sugar cane (Scenario 2) provides approximately the same total biomass yield as the current practice of partially irrigating 30,000 acres (calibration scenario). Growing cassava and sweet sorghum requires much less water, although the assumption of less water for sweet sorghum corresponds to a relatively low yield for Hawaiian conditions. The 5,850 acres of pasture in Upcountry Maui for intense beef and milk production would require significant irrigation (5 BGY), assumed to come solely from groundwater. The irrigation requirements for 1,000 acres of diversified agriculture are minimal compared to the other crops.”

“Unfortunately, Hawaii’s future might be drier than its past. Rainfall has been experiencing a decreasing trend over the last several decades (see Figure 1), and if this trend continues, there can be significant negative consequences for the Hawaiian Islands”

County Water Availability Policy Under Attack!

Developers claim (falsely) the current law keeps Affordable Housing from being built!! 
Exactly the opposite is true! 
SEVENTY-FIVE PER CENT of all future housing units will be UNAFFORDABLE to those with Maui salaries. 
New developments are NOW only required to have 25% of their units sell between $300k and $570 k. The rest, 75%, can be any price.
Real affordable housing projects are exempt from the law, and therefore given priority for the water we do have.

Please spread the word. 

Developers and large landowners want to get rid of this law and the realistic planning and accountability it brings to water management.
Our public trust water resources are at risk if the water department loses this important planning tool.
Wednesday Dec. 2      9am    TESTIFY 
Water Resources Committee Meeting
8th Fl. County Building
Can’t COME?
Testimony may be submitted to    referencing agenda item WR-11.
Keep our Water Availability Law Strong!!
• Keeps accountability in our water planning. Bill asks large developments to get real and “prove they have a water source”
• Protects water supply of current residents from being over-promised to new, unaffordable developments.
• Protects our aquifers and streams from over exploitation, as was commonly  done before the bill passed.
• Has encouraged water conservation efforts when large commercial water users like hotels want to expand
• Asks County Water Department to comment on all proposed wells, including their impacts on the exercise of traditional and customary Native Hawaiian rights and practices.
Background: The water availability policy, codified at Chapter 14.12 of the Maui County Code, was enacted in 2007 with the intent to conserve the county’s water resources. 
The ordinance requires applicants for development approvals to provide evidence of “a long-term, reliable supply of water.”
The Committee is being asked to approve amendments to REPEAL the current bill.
“The policy is often mentioned in discussions as one of the main reasons why affordable housing has not been built,” Baisa said.
“This review will provide a chance to evaluate what the policy’s true impact has been.”
The current law actually supports affordable housing being built, since it exempts all the following type of developments from proving a water source, giving them priority access to County water supplies where available:
• family subdivisions
• infill projects of 10 lots or less in west or central Maui service areas
•  projects with 100% affordable housing in west or central Maui service areas
•  public/quasi public housing projects in west or central Maui service areas
If the law is repealed, thousands of new units already approved in Central, South and West Maui will be “entitled” to water meters, whether there 
are sufficient water resources available or not.

Ola i ka Wai: Water is Life

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Wellhead Protection Draft Bill

The Board of Water Supply will discuss the draft bill establishing a Wellhead Protection Overlay Zoning District on August 20, 2015 9am at Department of Planning Conference Room, 250 South High Street, Wailuku, Maui.  Here are the testimonies at a prior BWS meeting: