Instream Flow Standards Set for Two West Maui Streams

November 29, 2018, 6:29 AM HST · Updated November 29, 6:29 AM
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Kahoma Valley, first kalo harvest in 130 years. (7.20.18) PC: Wendy Osher

The Hawai‘i Commission on Water Resource Management has adopted instream flow standards for Kahoma and Kanahā streams in West Maui.

The standards are aimed at providing mauka to makai streamflow for native stream animals and traditional and customary practices.

Restoration efforts on Kahoma Stream began several years ago with Kamehameha Schools releasing water past its stream diversion deep in Kahoma Valley. This release was in coordination with community-organized efforts to restore traditional kalo lo‘i in Kahoma.

Last Tuesday (Nov. 20, 2018), the Commission approved an instream flow standard of 3.49 million gallons per day that must flow in Kahoma Stream below the Kamehameha Schools’ diversion.

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Kanahā Stream, a smaller tributary of Kahoma Stream, is diverted by the County of Maui’s Department of Water Supply for potable drinking water and also provides non-potable water to one local resident and Lahainaluna High School in support of its esteemed agriculture program.

Recognizing current demands, the Commission approved a phased implementation of the instream flow standard. Initially, the County must release 0.55 million gallons per day past its diversion, with additions of 0.13 and 0.12 million gallons per day to meet additional lo‘i kalo being planted and supplying continuous flow in Kanahā Stream, respectively.

Lastly, the County intends to develop a new groundwater source within five years, or sooner, which will eventually provide for the full instream flow standard of 1.55 million gallons per day.

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Commission Chairperson Suzanne Case said, “With the restoration of streamflow to Kahoma and Kanahā Streams, we sincerely hope that the communities and families of Kahoma Valley and Lahaina will continue to see the return of stream animals and cultural practices, along with the abundant educational opportunities that exist, while allowing for continued important offstream domestic and agricultural uses in a balanced manner.”

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