Sugimura Proposes Investigative Review of Water Resources for Upcountry Maui

July 1, 2019, 3:28 PM HST · Updated July 1, 3:28 PM
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Councilmember Yuki Lei Sugimura is requesting an exploration of options relating to East Maui water resources to ensure reliable water delivery for some 37,000 Upcountry water users.

She said the investigative review would also ensure water for and agriculture to increase Maui’s level of food sustainability.

Upcountry Maui’s reliance on surface water makes the system vulnerable to drought conditions. According to Sugimura, this was documented in the latest Water Use and Development Plan Report prepared by the Department of Water Supply.

The Hawaiʻi Drought Monitor reports that the district is currently in abnormally dry conditions and NOAA forecasts predict dry conditions for the future.

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Sugimura issued a press release this afternoon saying, “Water deliveries from East Maui have been impacted by decisions by the State Water Commission and its’ Interim Instream Flow Standard decisions. A critical analysis of access to water during drought periods and its’ implication to the Upcountry water meter list are warranted.”

Sugimura said, deliberations associated with HB1326 and long-term lease licenses associated with East Maui Irrigation systems “have cast doubt to the access of water by the district.”

“Discussions revealed the interconnectivity of the EMI and County systems. There is an urgency for an assessment and implementation plan, exploring options including the feasibility to purchase and long-term management strategies of the EMI system to ensure reliable water for residents, agriculture, and businesses,” said Sugimura.

Sugimura has two items on the July 5 council meeting agenda: (1) to review the Upcountry water meter list and; (2) to explore the possible purchase of the EMI. These two items may be taken up later for discussion with the appropriate council committee.

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