DLNR NEWS RELEASE: MORE HOMESTEADING OPPORTUNITIES FOR NATIVE HAWAIIANS ON MOLOKA‘I AFTER WATER COMMISSION DECISION

Posted on Jul 21, 2021 in Latest News, Newsroom

(HONOLULU) – The Hawai‘i Commission on Water Resources Management (CWRM) has approved a permit request from the Hawai‘i Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to allocate a half million gallons of water per day (.595 mgd) to supply new and existing uses of Hawaiian Home Lands on Moloka‘i.

In 1993, DHHL filed a water user permit application for a half million gallons of potable water from two wells. Earlier that same year Moloka‘i Irrigation System and Moloka‘i Ranch and the Maui Department of Water Supply had filed competing applications for water from the Kualapu‘u Aquifer System Area. Until yesterday’s ruling by the Commission, the water rights for this aquifer had been litigated for thirty years.

CWRM Deputy Kaleo Manuel noted, “The commission previously reserved nearly three million gallons per day (2.905 mgd) to DHHL. Portions of the water approved will be deducted from that reservation.”

DHHL asked the Commission to approve conditions in its water use permit application to protect traditional and customary rights.

  • Work to implement community-led efforts to replace invasive species with native species to try to improve the health of the coastal ecosystem
  • Support and encourage efforts to reduce erosion and restore native vegetation in Kalama‘ula’s mauka areas
  • Make available certain Community Use designated areas as outdoor classrooms for schoolchildren, particularly for the perpetuation of traditional and customary groundwater dependent practices and resource management.

DHHL had conducted extensive research into the potential for cultural impacts, including interviews with selected practitioners.

Moloka‘i homesteader Glenn Teves commented, “As DHHL Chair William Aila stated in his testimony, the long delay in awarding water to DHHL has caused suffering among homesteaders on Moloka‘i. Yesterday’s vote is a meaningful step towards addressing that history.”

The Commission will consider complete water use permit applications from Maui Department of Water Supply and Molokai Properties Ltd. (aka Molokai Ranch) at a future Commission meeting.

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