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.

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:

Na Wai Eha Streams Restored

From MauiNow
By Wendy Osher

More water will be returned to streams of N? Wai ?Eh?, particularly water in ??ao, under an agreement reached in the N? Wai ?Eh? contested case hearing, state officials announced today.

The latest developments come after a decade-long battle over water rights and the health of the streams, with partial restoration of water ordered and implemented in 2010.

The settlement establishes a new interim instream flow standard, or the minimum required flow, of up to 10 mgd for Wailuku (??ao) Stream, and 2.9 mgd for Waikap? Stream. It also maintains the previous restorations of 10 mgd for Waihe?e River and 2.5 mgd for Waiehu Stream.

The waters are collectively known as N? Wai ?Eh? or “the four great waters.”

According to an announcement from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, the parties in the case addressed six issues including the effect of instream flows on traditional and customary practices, and alternative management actions.

Parties in the case included: Hui o N? Wai ?Eh?, the Maui Tomorrow Foundation, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company, Wailuku Water Company, and the County of Maui Department of Water Supply.

The agreement was reached with the assistance of mediator Robbie Alm and Hearing Officer Dr. Larry Miike. A final review and approval of the settlement was made by the state Attorney General.

Read the rest of this article at MauiNow

Background from EarthJustice:

In central Maui, a system of fresh water streams that sustained thriving Hawaiian communities since time immemorial is all dried up. Known as Na Wai `Eha or “The Four Great Waters,” these streams have been diverted for more than a century to irrigate sugar plantations. Now, on their sloping path from the mountains to the Pacific Ocean, parched earth is mostly what remains of these vital waterways for much of the year.

One might assume from the dry state of Na Wai `Eha that sugar cultivation is still a thriving industry on Maui. But it’s not. Over the past decade, the major water diverter—Wailuku Sugar Company—stopped growing sugarcane and began selling off the plantation to private developers. Yet it continues to drain the streams like before.

Private Companies Hoarding Water—A Public Trust Resource

Why? Wailuku Sugar Company has reinvented itself as Wailuku Water Company. It maintains its water diversions to turn a profit by selling that water to the private development projects built on the former plantation lands. Wailuku hoards the “surplus” that it hopes to sell to future developments by giving it in the meantime to Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar, which uses the water as a cheap alternative to its non-potable agricultural wells, or dumps it on sandy fields it wouldn’t otherwise farm. But the water isn’t the companies’ to sell or to waste.

Water in Hawai`i is a public trust resource, protected by the Hawai`i Constitution for the benefit of all Hawai`i’s people. The state has a duty to protect and restore traditional and customary Hawaiian practices, ecological uses, recreation, scenic values, and many other public uses of flowing stream water. Protecting private water banking and profiteering is not one of the state’s responsibilities—restoring Na Wai `Eha is.

The Many Functions of Na Wai `Eha

Na Wai `Eha streamflow helps recharge the ground water supply that sustains more than half of Maui’s residents and visitors. Native stream animals, wetlands, estuaries, and nearshore fisheries need a continuous supply of fresh water in order to remain healthy and functional. Streams need flow to support swimming, fishing, nature study, and aesthetic enjoyment.

And local communities need cool, flowing stream water for traditional wetland kalo (taro) cultivation, the staple food of the traditional Native Hawaiian diet. At one time, Na Wai `Eha supported Maui’s political center and fed the largest continuous area of wetland kalo fields in the Hawaiian Islands.

When companies began diverting streamflow for their sugar crops, kalo cultivation by Native Hawaiian communities suffered. Community members continue to cultivate some kalo where they can, but the streams of Na Wai `Eha must be restored to revive this important cultural tradition to its full potential. Flowing streams will also provide habitat for native stream species and reinvigorate traditional and customary practices, including subsistence gathering.

A 6-Year Legal Battle

The legal battle over Na Wai `Eha streamflow dates back to 2004, when Maui community groups Hui o Na Wai `Eha and Maui Tomorrow Foundation, represented by Earthjustice, petitioned the Hawai`i Commission on Water Resource Management to restore the streams. A lengthy trial followed through 2007 and 2008, and in April 2009, the Commission’s Hearings Officer issued a proposed decision to restore about half of the diverted flows to Na Wai `Eha—a total of 34.5 million gallons a day. Final arguments were heard in October 2009, and a final decision is expected soon.

Restoring streamflow means restoring vitality to Na Wai `Eha and the Native Hawaiian and local communities that depend on The Four Great Waters that nourished Maui long before the sugar industry disrupted their ecological and cultural functions.

How to report muddy runoff

Is the ocean water near you brown from runoff and sedimentation?

Would you like to help document what’s going on via citizen science efforts? The community-based Turbidity Task Force on Maui is a way to do so…

It’s really simple… grab a sample of water, collect some information, and bring it to the Killa Wiffa Surf Shop in Honokowai (West Maui) or the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (South Maui, 726 South Kihei Rd), where trained water quality monitoring volunteers can read the sample using the turbidity meters housed there and upload the data to the Coral Reef Monitoring Data Portal (

You can download the Turbidity Task Force form from

How to take a sample for the Turbidity Task Force:

Water Sampling Instructions (can be downloaded from:

  1. Safety First – Do not trespass, enter rough surf or fast moving water
  2. Keep samples on ice or refrigerate (?4degrees C).
  3. Within 40 hours of sample collection, bring to a meter station for reading, recording and entry into the Coral Reef Monitoring Data Portal-
  4. Record Location (Example: Honolua Bay rivermouth); full name and phone number
  5. Observe water body and shoreline or stream bank;
  6. Position yourself on shore or in water with sample vial opening facing opposite direction of water movement (facing upstream/up current of your body)
    1. For in water sampling, hold vial in water at desired depth (surface, 2/3 or 1/3 of total depth), remove cap and completely fill vial with no bubbles.  Recap at sampling depth
    2. From shore or bank sample surface only, remove cap prior to dipping vial into water at the surface
    3. If sampling a source of water entering a water body (stream, etc.) take two additional samples up and down flow from source

7. Fill out Chain of Custody Record: Bottle number, sample site, date, time, type of water (example Ocean, stream,  pond, storm runoff)

8. Provide a sketch or written description of sample location

9. Keep chain of custody and other kit materials with sample, if you give it to someone else to deliver, fill out the sample transfer form.

10.   Please return reusable kit including instructions to the meter station and pick up a new kit for next time

The Turbidity Task Force is a community-based monitoring program sponsored by The Save Honolua Coalition, Maui Nui Marine Resource Council and partners including Aquanimity Now, Coral Reef Alliance, Digital Bus, Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in cooperation with local community groups.

Documenting Runoff & Sedimentation Events:

Keep a log with dates and times of observations – rainfall, water levels, stream flow changes, color of stream, presence of debris, etc (See the visual assessment protocol for ideas)

Take photos of upstream and downstream.  If there is a tributary flow (contributing stream from natural streams or roads, driveways, sites etc,) take pictures of the stream upstream of it entering and downstream.

Take actual measurements of water lines, debris lines, mudlines, when it is safe to;  before the forensic evidence disappears.  A picture of a mud or water line with a ruler or tape in the picture is best.  Pictures with recorded measurements also good.


Honolua Bay during a sedimentation event, May 17, 2005 (however it looks just like this now, 12/14/11)

Honolua Bay during a sedimentation event, May 17, 2005 (however it looks just like this now, 12/14/11)

Protect Our Water Wells

Testimony offered by Sierra Club, Maui Group October 17, 20013
PO box 791180
Paia, HI 96779

To: Board of Water Supply
200 South High Street, Fifth Floor,
Wailuku, Hawaii 96793-2155

RE: Agenda Item VIII. A. Discussion and possible action regarding the Regulatory – Legislative Investigative Committee’s report on the Draft Wellhead Protection Ordinance and its legislative impact on private and public properties.

Aloha BWS members and mahalo for your service,

Sierra Club Maui has had volunteers attend a number of meetings over the years regarding the County’s Draft Wellhead Protection Ordinance. We have offered comments at public workshops and meetings.

We have been supportive of the DWS moving forward to adopt a policy for wellhead protection for several reasons.

  1. Maui has had ground water contamination in a number of public and private wells over the years. The problem exists and we should make an effort to minimize future risks.
  2. While the proposed ordinance only protects public water sources, it certainly makes economic sense to do so. Our water department budget is always strained. Why risk the investments we already have in our public wells simply because no policy is in place.
  3. We have heard others contend at wellhead meetings that existing state and federal laws already handle the problem. If that were true, we wouldn’t have unhealthy contaminants in any of our wells. This is certainly not the case.
  4. There is a reason that the EPA sets guidelines and standards for states and local communities to enact laws to protect the source of their drinking water. Local laws work in concert to implement federal policies on potential contaminants.
  5. Personally, I served on the General Plan Advisory Committee which reviewed the Maui Island Plan language. The MIP policy on groundwater source protection is clear: “Complete and implement DWS wellhead-protection program to protect the water quality of public and private wells.”
  6. We have heard some contend that the proposed draft Wellhead Protection ordinance is a threat to property owners. Not if they are sincere in wanting to avoid activities that could impact the water supply that our communities depend upon. The activities that are prohibited or regulated follow national models. No one is unfairly being singled out.
  7. In fact, this ordinance is really accommodating to landowners. All existing uses are permitted. Small subdivisions are exempt. The proposed protected zones where certain activities are regulated are narrowly delineated. In many longtime state and local wellhead ordinances, the protected areas are very broad and cover an entire potential watershed.
  8. Sierra Club Maui supports the efforts of the DWS to move forward with an ordinance that begins to address the longterm impacts many human activities can have on our water supply.

We hope that you will support it as well.

Mahalo for your consideration of this important public policy.

Lucienne de Naie

Sierra Club Maui

Conservation Chair