Call/Email the Mayor & Maui Council Chair and say “ENOUGH ALREADY! Stop wasting the public’s money to defend illegal injection wells in West Maui. Spend the money instead on fixing the problem!”
Mayor Alan Arakawa
Council Chair Mike White
Background: $3 million down the toilet – Enough Already!
The County paid a main land law firm $3 million to defend its actions of injecting treated wastewater into the ocean without proper state oversight. The County was joined in its fight by the Association of American Railroads, the American Iron and Steel Institute, the American Petroleum Institute, the National Mining Association and the Fertilizer Institute.
The County COULD have used that money to build the infrastructure we need to support water recycling. Instead, now they’re talking about filing MORE appeals. Will this be another $3 million of public money down the toilet?
Call or email the mayor and council chair and say: Enough Already – Stop spending the public’s money on lawsuits and just fix the problem!
On Friday, December 1st, 2017, the Maui County Council listened to testimony for about 10 hours on multiple issues, including the oxybenzone bill, the sand mining bill (both up for 1st reading), and a new legislative item introduced by Council Chair Mike White regarding giving council members the ability to fire another council member’s executive assistant with a simple majority vote. The meeting was scheduled to reconvene on Monday so Council could begin to discuss and vote on the lengthy amount of items on the agenda.
On Monday, December 4th, the Maui County Council discussed the sunscreen bill for almost 2 hours. Some council members voiced that they would not vote for the bill unless the County’s corporation counsel (county lawyers) approved of the bill. Currently, Corp. Counsel refuses to sign off on the legality of the bill, but from watching the proceedings it is still not clear why.
The council members finally agreed that they would pass the bill on 1st reading but that before 2nd reading happens, they will hold a special meeting on the science and legality of the bill and allow both sides of the oxybenzone argument (likely, non-profit scientists and the cosmetics industry) explain their arguments for or against the bill. The rationale behind this is that this special meeting may make Corp. Council more comfortable approving of the bill. The Council then voted 9-0 in support of the bill’s first reading.
Every bill must be passed by a majority of council 2 times before it becomes law – 2nd reading will likely happen by March 2018, but hopefully much sooner. We’re on the way to success – 1 more vote and we could be the first in the world to prohibit the sale and use of oxybenzone!
Stay tuned for more updates in the coming months on how you can support this landmark legislation.
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!
HB 2501 DOES NOT ADDRESS THE INJUSTICE IN EAST MAUI
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.
HB 2501 HARMS EAST MAUI KALO FARMERS AND FAMILIES
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.
KNOW THE FACTS. DEMAND THE TRUTH.
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. WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.”
“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”