Mahi Pono, Hui o Nā Wai ʻEhā, and OHA have reached an agreement regarding Mahi Pono’s surface water use permit application (SWUPA) for Nā Wai ‘Ehā Surface Water Management Areas of Waihe`e, Waiehu, `Īao, and Waikapū Streams, Maui.
Mahi Pono has committed in the settlement to take the following actions:
-Mahi Pono will provide comprehensive and continual monitoring and public reporting of data relating to its water diversions, deliveries, and uses, subject to independent verification by the Commission.
-Mahi Pono will bypass the Waiʻale Reservoir which will avoid the reservoir’s significant seepage losses of 6 to 8 million gallons per day.
-Mahi Pono will close the low-flow intake for the Spreckels Ditch on Wailuku River.
-If requested, Mahi Pono will assist in the restoration of the po‘owai of the North Waihe‘e ‘auwai in partnership with Hui o Nā Wai ʻEhā and the Waiheʻe community.
-Mahi Pono will seek opportunities for native shrubland ecosystem restoration with native species conducive to that region.
-Mahi Pono commits to using water for agriculture and not residential developments on agricultural land.
-Mahi Pono will work in good faith with the Hui, and OHA to facilitate communication and public transparency. This will include allowing site visits by representatives of the Hui, and OHA to diversions, ditches, and farm operations on a quarterly basis or more.
-Lastly, Mahi Pono takes water delivery system losses very seriously. We will diligently investigate loses in our sections of the water delivery system and have committed $250,000 to this effort. In addition to these commitments, Mahi Pono also supports the Hui’s and OHA’s recommended IIFSs.
Mahi Pono believes it provides a fair and workable balance consistent with the law while also still allowing Mahi Pono to farm in Central Maui. It must also be noted that the allocation of surface water that Mahi Pono has accepted per this agreement – 11.22 mgd – is several orders of magnitude less than the 36 mgd that was originally requested by HC&S in its SWUPA. Through the acceptance of this allocation, Mahi Pono is making a commitment to maximize the efficiency of our water usage.
Mahi Pono’s commitment to efficiently use water starts with changing the way surface water has historically been diverted and delivered. In the past, the maximum amount of water was diverted from Nā Wai ʻEhā streams in order to irrigate sugar cane. Under this settlement, water will be requested and delivered to the Waihe’e-Hopoi Fields – 3,740 acres of farmland between Kuihelani Highway and Maui Veterans Highway – only when needed, and only in quantities equating to the requirement for crop irrigation. This will leave as much water as possible in the streams while allowing Mahi Pono to grow fresh, local, and GMO-free food for the Maui community.
Mahi Pono thanks the Hui and OHA for their tremendous work and stewardship of Nā Wai ʻEhā. We would also like to thank and acknowledge all of the other surface water use permit applicants in the moku of Wailuku, most of whom have waited patiently for over a decade to see the Nā Wai ʻEhā contested case reach its completion. Mahi Pono looks forward to working together on our journey forward for the benefit of our entire community.