East Maui Water Rights: Holdover Permits Up for Renewal

December 8, 2016, 2:58 PM HST · Updated December 8, 2:59 PM
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East Maui Water. Maui Now file image.

East Maui Water. Maui Now file image.

East Maui water rights will be one of the issues up for discussion at tomorrow’s Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting, scheduled to start at 9 a.m. at the Kalanimoku Building in Honolulu.

On the agenda is an item considering four holdover permits for Alexander and Baldwin and East Maui Irrigation Company.

The item surfaces as A&B moves to cease sugar operations this month and transition into a diversified agriculture model for its Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company plantation on Maui.

The company’s water leases are at the center of an ongoing battle over water rights that stems from its use of water from island streams to support its agricultural and sugar operations over the years.

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Environmentalists and traditional kalo farmers have expressed opposition to the continued water diversions and plan to testify against the renewal of permits.

Since announcing the closure of its subsidiary Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company, Alexander and Baldwin has said that it is conducting diversified agriculture and cattle pasture trials on land that was previously used for sugar production.

Future use of the sugar acreage is project for use as livestock grounds,diversified farm leases, bioenergy crops and agricultural parks.

Citing the public trust doctrine, opponents to the renewal, including the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi say they want assurances that the water will be used for a beneficial purpose and will not cause environmental degradation or impact cultural uses.

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