Ask the Mayor: What’s Happening to All the H2O HC&S Once Used?

August 6, 2017, 5:07 PM HST · Updated August 6, 5:10 PM
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Water conservation request. Maui Now graphic.

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his staff.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column. Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at [email protected], 270-7855 or mail them to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.

Dear Mayor:

Q: Upcountry residents are under water restrictions again this summer and I am wondering where all of the millions of gallons of fresh water per day that HC&S used to use is going. Why can’t Maui County purchase any of that water for Upcountry use?

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A: The reality is that we can’t just “buy” more water. It doesn’t work that way, because while there may be fewer million-gallons of water being used, that doesn’t automatically translate to more water being available.

In a nutshell, the county pays for delivery of water from people who have access to it to those who need it. The water that supported HC&S’ sugar cane cultivation in Central Maui came primarily from East Maui streams via a ditch system. This same ditch system is a primary source of water for Upcountry DWS customers.

Water is a public trust resource administered by the state and appurtenant users who either own or lease land directly abutting the water source have access to the water, but that access is currently regulated via an Interim In-Stream Flow Standard (IIFS).

Although A&B may be using less water, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all that water is available for other uses due to a case being considered by the State Commission on Water Resources Management (CWRM) adjusting intakes until the IIFS process is completed.

Once this case is decided, which is expected later this year, we will know how much of this water is available for off-stream uses, including Maui County DWS customers.

Upcountry residents who are concerned about future availability of water can voice their concerns when the CWRM holds a future hearing to decide this issue.

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