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Posts Tagged ‘water rights’

From our friends at NHLC:

The State Water Commission meets on May 19, 2010 May 26th (UPDATE: Date change!) to act on the latest round of petitions by East Maui residents seeking to restore stream flow to 19 East Maui streams, when HC&S is WASTING water being diverted.  Na Moku Aupuni O Ko`olau Hui is seeking restoration so the fish, o`opu, hihiwai, and o`opu can return to those streams and support the constitutionally-protected cultural practices of Hawaiians.

Without doubt, A&B/HC&S is wasting water.  The Water Commission has already concluded that it uses 70% more water than it should in the wet season and 40% more water than it should during the dry season.  Moreover, unless this Water Commission demands that they do more, A&B/HC&S’ leaky irrigation system and poor maintenance practices will continue wasting this valuable resource, because the State only charges this sugar plantation less than ¼ of a penny per thousand gallons, discouraging any conservation while depleting the State of fair market value for the use of this invaluable resource (collected from 33,000 acres of ceded lands, or about $4.84 per acre per year).

Learn more, see the flyer

Click to see more detailed information at CWRM website on Na Moku Aupuni O Ko`olau’s petitions to restore 27 East Maui Streams now dewatered by Alexander and Baldwin, Inc. and its Maui subsidiaries,  Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company and East Maui Irrigation Company.

What you can do:

Please keep those letters to the editor going, leading to this Water Commission action meeting on whether to restore 19 East Maui streams.  We are starting to see some really intelligent responses to the A&B/HC&S propaganda.

You can write to the editors of your daily papers:

Maui News: Use form at: http://vnr.oweb.net/vnr/add_submission.asp?categoryID=769&publicationID=110

Honolulu Advertiser:
E-mail: letters@honoluluadvertiser.com
Fax: (808) 535-2415
Online: Use online form: http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/form/op/letters

Honolulu Star Bulletin:
Email to: letters@starbulletin.com
Fax: (808) 529-4750

Click to see latest CWRM agenda information for most recent information on where the May 19 meeting will be held and at what time.

Questions?  Contact either Camille Kalama (cakalam@nhlchi.org) or Alan Murakami (almurak@nhlchi.org) or at 808-521-2302.

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Came to our attention via Island Breath Blog: A small town in Maine has voted to pass a Rights-Based ordnance, giving rights to their ecosystem and denying the right of “personhood” to corporations–an attempt to prevent multi-national bottled water corporation Nestle Waters from bottling more of the town’s groundwater.

Nestle is the world’s largest food and beverage company and has very deep pockets. However, we won’t back down, we are the stewards of this most precious resource water, and we want to protect it for future generations.

Activists in Maine are well aware that the Nestle Corporation is not just interested in expanding for the purpose of filling their Poland Springs bottles today, they are interested in the control of Maine’s abundant water resources for the future. They are expanding in many parts of this country from McCloud, California to Maine. Nestle is positioning themselves to capitalize on the emerging crisis of global water scarcity.

The right to water is a social justice issue and we believe that it should not be sold to those who can afford it, leaving the world’s poorest citizens thirsty. Citizens will do a much better job of protecting this resource than a for-profit corporation.

You can see the full statement from the Save our Water Steering committee and video of the vote at: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/40335

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Public Hearing to Restore Water to East Maui Streams
Wednesday Sept. 24th
at 1:00 pm till testimony is pau
Haiku Community Center, Maui.

Parched loi in East Maui, July 2008

From Marti:

Tomorrow the taro farmers of East Maui will confront (for the umpteenth time) the corporation(s) stealing water from their communities. Taro patches and native streams are dry all through the Hawaiian Islands because former sugar plantation/corporations continue to divert water from their natural course – selling the water back to users and banking the water for future housing developments (note: “water banking” is a nice way of saying “water wasting”).

The Hawaii Constitution specifically grants traditional taro farmers the right to water over newcomer users like these big corporations.  But the state has not enforced the law.  It’s been more than five years since the taro farmers of East Maui won their case in court and water still has not been released from the diversions.

Tomorrow’s hearing before the Commission on Water Resources Management is another attempt to get the state government to uphold the law and protect Hawaii’s natural and cultural resources by establishing minimum in-stream flow standards, which will require the release of water currently being illegally diverted by East Maui Irrigation Co. (a subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin, one of “The Big Five” corporations that once dominated Hawaii during the days of sugar plantations).

Keep watching. The next hearing will be on October 1, 2008, when the taro farmers argue their motion to compel the state government to follow the law and release the water.

To learn more, visit www.nhlchi.org/highlights2.htm

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From Alan Murakami of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, on behalf of East Maui Taro farmers and Na Moku Aupuni O ko`olau Hui:

Background. The law provides for various appropriate remedies for dealing with and managing serious conflicts over uses of stream water. The biggest conflicts over stream water uses have festered for years because of the massive diversions of East Maui streams by East Maui Irrigation Company for decades. EMI diverts as much water for its plantation uses in central Maui as the average amount that all of O`ahu consumes. The biggest conflict involves the water EMI is taking illegally from streams that feed taro patches and support native stream life vital to the preservation of Hawaiian traditional and customary practices in the cultural landscapes of Wailuanui and Honopou Valleys.

State Agency Delays. After 7 years of patiently waiting for the implementation of the appropriate administrative remedies theoretically available to it, Na Moku Aupuni O Ko`olau Hui’s leadership has been repeatedly frustrated by the inaction of both the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Commission on Water Resources Management in performing its public trust functions designed to protect the public interest and the water rights of East Maui taro farmers and subsistence gatherers.

Those functions are based on the presumption that these agencies will respect and enforce clear law on water rights held by these farmers and gatherers, which are explicitly protected by the Hawai`i Constitution, the state Water Code, and a long line of water case law. These laws not only respect these practices of these cultural practitioners, but provide the basis for demanding that EMI demonstrate the ABSENCE of injury to these practitioners BEFORE diversions are allowed. Despite holding all the legal advantages of these laws, the BLNR and the Water Commission have delayed, without explanation or justification, the timely implementation of these laws, leading to chronic and severe cultural and monetary damages amongst farmers and gatherers trying to enforce their rights.

Frustration. For example, the CWRM has, without explanation or legal justification, delayed action on Na Moku’s pending request to restore stream flows to support constitutionally protected water rights of taro farmers and subsistence gatherers since 2001, although the governing statute demands action within 6 months. Similarly, like its sister agency, the BLNR has allowed EMI to continue diversions from East Maui without regard for these same farmers and gatherers, even after a year since it supposedly acted to direct its staff to protect the water rights of those affected. The DLNR has failed to fully implement the year-old order of the BLNR, which was designed to provide farmers immediate interim relief from the effects of the existing EMI diversions.

Self Help. On July 9, 2008, taro farmers observing water being improperly diverted from Wailuanui Stream unilaterally released water from EMI diversions. The affected practitioners could not wait any longer, having suffered failed taro crops due to insufficient irrigation water, while EMI diversions took the water that would have savedand supported their crops. This exercise of their constitutional rights did not follow the procedure outlined in either agency’s timetable for action.

Nevertheless, the releases from EMI’s diversion works are entirely consistent with the continuation of traditional and customary practices followed by their ancestors for growing taro and gathering from the streams. It is just that the BLNR and CWRM did not, and apparently chose not to, promptly protect the superior water rights of these practitioners as the law would otherwise require. Their failure to timely implement the law directly resulted in the level of frustration felt by all practitioners in East Maui who have attempted to patiently wait for the water to which they are entitled in the affected streams.

Na Moku position. The taro farmers and subsistence gatherers who took this unprecedented action in the midst of the delayed proceedings did so without prior approval of Na Moku. Na Moku has continued to make itself available to state agencies, in all available administrative processes, in efforts to seek the orderly restoration of streams illegally diverted by EMI. However, it cannot and does not condemn the unilateral releases of water into the streams last week by taro farmers frustrated by long, and unexplained, delays by state agencies. After all, tenants of an ahupua`a do have the reasonable right to access areas within the same ahupua`a to continue their traditional and customary practices, including taro growing and subsistence gathering.

Na Moku affirms its belief that these releases reflect the reasonable and overdue exercise of these rights, protected under the Hawai`i Constitution, statutes, and case law, with which responsible state agencies cannot and should not interfere. This responsibility for this resort to self help rests entirely with the BLNR/DLNR and the CWRM. Na Moku and the taro farmers who are now acting are all frustrated by these agencies failure to act timely enough to save their taro crops. Moreover, successful taro farmers contribute heavily to enhancing Hawai`i’s food supply, its food security and long-term sustainability. Each agency should not exacerbate building tensions by any heavy-handed means to reacting to these farmer actions. The farmers are only reacting to belated processes each agency has not timely nor properly implemented.

In the spirit of moving forward in this unprecedented circumstance, Na Moku stands ready to cooperate with the CWRM and the BLNR/DLNR to continue any reasonably prompt process to assure that the rights of its members are respected and timely enforced.

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