Maui News

Sugimura backs Upper Kula water improvements, use of recycled water from Kīhei

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Maui County Councilmember Yui Lei Sugimura

The Council’s Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee continues its review of the Mayor’s proposed budget throughout the month of April, with meetings beginning at 9 a.m. daily.

Councilmember Yuki Lei Sugimura, who holds the Upcountry residency seat, expressed her support for several Capital Improvement Projects included in the mayorʻs Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal including:

  • Upper Kula water transmission improvements
  • Kīhei Land Application System 
  • Hālau of ʻŌiwi Arts

“The County Council is tasked with approving a balanced budget that meets the needs of our community within our ability to pay,” said Sugimura in a press release update.  “With a proposed budget of over $1 billion, we will need to make tough decisions to ensure our county resources are being utilized in the most cost-effective way.”


The Upper Kula Transmission Improvements will upgrade and replace portions of the system that suffered severe damaged during the “kona low” storm event in December of 2021.  

Kula water line repairs. PC: Sterling Ross (12.9.21)

“Many upcountry residents were left without reliable and safe drinking water for over a month following the December storm,” said Sugimura in a press release.  “Improvements to our aging water infrastructure are sorely needed.”

The Kīhei Land Application System aims to use R-1 recycled water produced by the Kīhei Wastewater Reclamation Facility for irrigation of drought affected land mauka of the facility.  


“The Kīhei Land Application System project has a number of benefits,” said Sugimura.  “This project will lead to productive reuse of R-1 water by irrigating land that has been left fallow due to prolonged drought and damage from feral animals such as axis deer.  This in turn will lead to a reduction in significant runoff from heavy rain that makes its way down to our shoreline areas.” 

The Hālau of ʻŌiwi Arts is to be situated in Wailuku town, at the corner of Church and Vineyard streets, with approximately 47,000 square feet of hula, community gathering, performance, office, and retail space.  

“This facility would address the lack of a dedicated County space for the practice of Hula and ʻŌiwi arts while also accomplishing so much more,” Sugimura said.  “This project reflects the County Council’s commitment to supporting efforts to protect and advance the practice of Hula and Hawaiian culture that was reaffirmed by the body’s approval of Resolution 21-161 in November of 2021 supporting the Huamakahikina Declaration.”


The proposed project is the result of a truly collaborative process between multiple widely respected Kumu Hula, community partners and the County, with support from the business community.  

“Seeing so many of our leaders come together from the hula community and elsewhere, for a great purpose is inspiring,” said Sugimura.  “The Hālau of ʻŌiwi Arts fits perfectly with the vision that emerged out of the re-Wailuku revitalization efforts along with the original plans of the Wailuku Civic Complex.  

Mayor and Kumu Hula pictured on Vineyard Street in front of Maui artist Amanda Joy Bower’s mural titled Ha’aha’a – the future location of the proposed Hālau of ʻŌiwi Art. Pictured from left to right: Kumu Hula Kamaka Kūkona; Kumu Hula Kahulu Maluo-Pearson; Kumu Hula Hōkūlani Holt; Mayor Michael Victorino; Kumu Hula Cody Pueo Pata; Kumu Hula Francine “Mopsy” Aarona; Kumu Hula Moanikeʻala Whittle-Wagner; and Kumu Hula Haunani Paredes. PC: County of Maui / Shane Tegarden

“As someone who grew up in Wailuku, I believe there is no better way to reenergize downtown than through culture and the arts,” said Sugimura, who will be proposing the creation of a broader Wailuku Arts District during the Council’s budget deliberations. 

“With a proposed budget of over $1 billion, it is the Council’s duty to explore the most cost-effective means to finance such important and impactful projects,” Sugimura concluded.  “I look forward to working with my colleagues as we navigate our annual budget review process.”


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