Today, November 9, 2017, the State’s Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) voted 5-0 to once again renew Alexander & Baldwin and East Maui Irrigation, Co.ʻs 1 year revocable permits for 2018, which allow them to take up to 80 million gallons of water a day from East Mauiʻs streams. The five members present were Keone Downing, Stan Roehrig, Thomas Oi, Suzanne Case, and Chris Yuen.
The Land Board virtually ignored the testimony of dozens of people who gave reason after reason for why these leases should not be renewed, including that A&B has shown no immediate need for access to this water. While Member Roehrig voiced that the water take should be limited to 50 mgd, the rest of the members ignored this. They did add 2 new conditions to the permit: requirement of clean up of debris around the stream diversions and that the permits must be made consistent with the Interim Instream Flow Standard (IIFS), which is currently being deliberated on and will be set by the Stateʻs Commission on Water Resources Management.
A&B has not provided the information necessary to justify authorizing a draw of 80 million gallons of water from the public. That water belongs in the streams. When actual farm plans are developed, new petitions for water that include actual data can be applied for from the Water Commission. Until then, the water belongs in the streams.
This is disappointing news, but WE WILL NOT GIVE UP. A&B does not have a right to East Maui’s streams, and we will keep fighting to change this.
Article in Civil Beat on the decision, featuring interview with Sierra Club Maui Executive Committee member Lucienne De Naie