Historic Water Release Planned for Monday at ʻĪao

October 6, 2014, 4:45 PM HST · Updated October 13, 8:06 AM
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Water shown flowing from the 'Iao Stream between Wailuku and Happy Valley. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Water shown flowing from the ‘Iao Stream between Wailuku and Happy Valley. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

***Additional information regarding monitoring and compliance is posted at the following direct LINK.

“For the first time in more than a century,” there will be a continuous flow of water from mauka to makai into the Wailuku (ʻĪao) Stream on Maui.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources today announced the Wailuku Water Company will begin the release of 10 million gallons of water per day into ʻĪao at 9 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014.

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In the press release announcement, DLNR chairperson William Aila Jr. said the restoration of water will “provide great potential to restore native fuana habitat.”

On Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 at 9 a.m., Wailuku Water Company will begin releasing 10 million gallons of water per day into ʻĪao Stream pursuant to the April 2014 Settlement Agreement in the Na Wai ‘Eha Contested Case. Graphics by Wendy Osher.

On Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 at 9 a.m., Wailuku Water Company will begin releasing 10 million gallons of water per day into ʻĪao Stream pursuant to the April 2014 Settlement Agreement in the Na Wai ‘Eha Contested Case. Graphics by Wendy Osher.

He said the department will work closely with the Division of Aquatic Resources to monitor how the increased flow affects aquatic life in the stream.

The decade-long battle over water rights and the health of the streams, included the partial restoration of water ordered and implemented in 2010.

In April of 2014, a new interim instream flow standard was established at the waters collectively known as Nā Wai ʻEhā or “the four great waters.”

Under the agreement, authorities adjusted the minimum required flow at Wailuku (ʻĪao) Stream, and Waikapū Stream; and maintained the previous restorations at Waiheʻe River and Waiehu Stream.

At the time, members of the group Hui o Nā Wai ‘Ehā said that while it was a “positive first step forward,” there were “many more issues that need to be resolved in order to truly say all four streams in Nā Wai ʻEhā are restored and flowing mauka to makai.”

Today’s announcement comes after reported delays in the implementation of the restoration agreement.

State officials today provided updated water flow requirements saying the new agreement establishes interim instream flow standards of 10 million gallons per day for ʻĪao near Kepaniwai Park, 5.0 mgd for ʻĪao at or near the stream mouth, and 2.9 mgd for Waikapū Stream (below the South Waikapū Ditch diversion).

The agreement also maintains the previous restorations of 10 mgd for Waiheʻe River, 1.6 mgd for North Waiehu Stream, and 0.9 mgd for the South Waiehu Streams, according to officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The groups involved in the agreement include: Hui o Nā Wai ‘Eha, Maui Tomorrow Foundation, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company, Wailuku Water Company, the Maui County Department of Water Supply, and the State Commission on Water Resource Management.

Wailuku Water Company president Avery Chumbley commented in the joint announcement saying, “Wailuku Water Company supports the instream flow standards for the Nā Wai ‘Ehā Streams agreed to by the parties and adopted by the Commission. These standards are flexible enough to address the variability in stream flows that naturally exist. We look forward to working with the Commission to make this a success story.

Department officials advise that due to safety concerns, access to the area will be limited during the water release.  Individuals near the waterways should be aware of rising water levels at ʻĪao  throughout the day.

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