Maui News


January 13, 2009, 5:30 PM HST
* Updated January 15, 9:18 AM
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The Public Utilities Commission issued an order on Friday, to suspend a docket filed by Wailuku Water Company.  The former Wailuku Sugar plantation company had sought approvals for a certificate of convenience and necessity to provide non-potable water distribution to customers in the central region (including Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku and Waikapu).  The restrictions come as the state Commission on Water Resource Management works to resolve an underlying dispute over water rights at Na Wai `Eha-or the Four Waters-that include Waikapu, Iao, and Waiehu Streams, along with the Waihee River.

In a press release issued by the legal firm Earthjustice, Iao Valley resident John Duey responded to the action saying, “For too long, WWC has monopolized Na Wai `Eha streamflows belonging to the public trust for its own private gain.”  Wailuku Water Company President Avery Chumbley disputed the claim, telling Pacific Radio Group, the order essentially allows Wailuku Water to continue operating under status quo until in-stream flow standards are established and necessary water permits are obtained through the SWMA Proceeding.

The company is also blocked in the interim from taking on new customers and selling or transferring any of its assets.  A decision on the Instream Flow Standards by the state commission is expected between May and August.  At that time, parties to the Instream Flow Standard Proceeding thereafter have the opportunity to appeal any final decision to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, and then to the Supreme Court.

In suspending the docket today, the commission acknowledged that subsequent appeals could take years; but notes that initial decisions are expected in mid-2009, providing some pronouncement on the applicant’s right to divert water.  That will allow the commission to proceed with its own docket while an appeals of the CWRM decisions are pending.

(Posted by Wendy Osher:  Tuesday, January 13, 2009)

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