Monday, June 27, 2016
We have a water permit process that has not been working. While I have major reservations about HB2501, it does provide time to transition to a process that ensures water is distributed fairly in accordance with the public trust doctrine and that decisions are made in a timely manner. The issues this bill addresses affect A&B and others such as KIUC and HELCO and smaller farmers who have revocable water permits and are not able to convert them to leases in the time allowed under statute.
I understand why taro farmers on Maui would want this bill vetoed, and to them I say that water diversions will not continue as they have in the past. The State Water Code explicitly prohibits wasting water, and I expect A&B to stop diverting any water it is not actively using. I also expect A&B to make its plans to support sustainable, diversified agriculture available to the public as quickly as possible and to act in good faith, so we can all pitch in on shaping Maui’s future.
My expectation is that the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Commission on Water Resource Management will act quickly, especially in setting instream flow standards so we all have the same facts. As the Board and Commission consider any application for long-term leases, I also expect them to factor in expected climate change impacts to rainfall, in-stream protection, and forest protection.
My administration is committed to helping the parties involved in East Maui to mediate their differences to avoid costly delays for everyone. Let us move forward together.