Na Wai Eha stream restoration begins today, August 9

August 9, 2010, 7:52 AM HST · Updated August 9, 7:52 AM
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Posted by Wendy Osher

After years of legal wrangling, water is being partially restored today at Na Wai Eha in the West Maui mountains.  The release by Wailuku Water Company and Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company was ordered by the state water commission as a result of a contested case hearing initiated by several Maui community groups.  The release of water will occur past the company’s diversions at Waihee River and North and South Waiehu Streams.

A sign at Iao Valley State Park points to the significance of Na Wai 'Eha and the streams that sustained the life below. Photo by Wendy OSHER.

Some users receiving stream water from ditch systems may experience inadequate or a failure in ditch flows as a result of the releases. Due to safety concerns, access to the area is restricted and the public is urged to be aware of rising water levels on both streams throughout the day.

The petition sought the restoration of stream flows at the four waterways known collectively as Na Wai ‘Eha:  Waihe‘e River and Waiehu, ‘Iao, and Waikapū Streams.

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The Commission determined that the minimum amount of water that should flow below the Spreckels Ditch on Waihe‘e is 10 million gallons per day (mgd), which should result in 6 mgd of water flowing past the stream’s mouth.  On Waiehu Stream, a minimum of 1.6 mgd must flow below the diversion on North Waiehu and 0.9 mgd below the Spreckels Ditch diversion on South Waiehu, which should result in 0.6 mgd flowing at the mouth of Waiehu Stream.

“The hearing involved very complex issues requiring a careful weighing of instream and offstream uses, but the Commission believes that its decision achieves a good balance to protect the health of the streams, while also providing for beneficial offstream uses and native Hawaiian rights to water,” said Commission Chairperson Laura Thielen.

Commission staff will accompany representatives from WWC and HC&S to measure and document the releases.

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