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Work continues on Maui Island Water Use and Development Plan

COUNCIL'S 3 MINUTES

This council has taken seriously our responsibility to listen to, learn from and support all communities within Maui County.

We are continuing to use this approach with the Maui Island Water Use and Development Plan, or WUDP, an inventory of existing water sources and projected water needs for the next 20 years.

Approving the new WUDP — the first for the island since 1990 — is an intensive and detailed process that began years ago. Through the diligence and hard work of the Department of Water Supply, Board of Water Supply, the council’s Water, Infrastructure and Transportation (WIT) Committee and engaged members of our community, we’ve gotten close to approving an updated plan to guide us through the next two decades.

After a recommendation by the WIT Committee to pass the bill adopting the proposed WUDP, it became evident some in the public still had concerns requiring attention.

While the plan has undergone a rigorous review process, dictated by the Maui County Code, the council decided on Oct. 9 to send the plan back to the WIT Committee to address possible amendments submitted through the written and verbal testimony of concerned residents. The council simultaneously referred the plan to the Environmental, Agricultural and Cultural Preservation (EACP) Committee to allow for a focus on WUDP issues under my committee’s jurisdiction.

We are planning a joint committee hearing next month to make sure all final requests and questions on the plan are addressed.

I plan to focus on the environmental and cultural questions and related amendments to the plan, while WIT Committee Chair Sugimura will focus on other amendments pertinent to her committee’s subject matter.

In recent meetings, my committee has concentrated on expansion of agriculture, riparian rights, water for kalo cultivation, visitor impacts to county environmental and infrastructural resources, effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the protection of historic properties, including managing development areas with iwi kupuna.

We’ve had informative and educational discussions with experts from within our county government and beyond as we’ve discussed methods to keep our community safe, the history and importance of water for agriculture and how we may protect our kupuna now and long after they’ve passed.

For example, Dr. Janet Six, the archaeologist for the County of Maui, provided an update on a cultural overlay she has been working on with the geographic information systems, or GIS, section of the Information Technology Services Division and with the State Historic Preservation Division.

We’ve also had the great privilege of learning about the history and culture of water for agriculture from Hokuao Pellegrino — who is not only a farmer but also a land education specialist and researcher responsible for restoring a portion of streamflow to each of the four Na Wai Eha streams.

Because questions and concerns relating to these topics have also been expressed as it relates to the WUDP, I intend to bring Dr. Six and Mr. Pellegrino back for our joint meeting on the plan.

The plan will be forwarded to the state Commission on Water Resource Management for final approval following the council’s endorsement of the plan by ordinance.

In the end, all aspects of life tie together, and we as a council are doing our best to work collaboratively on these issues so we may best represent the people who look to us as their voice in policymaking.

As we approach the home stretch of this challenging year, I want to encourage everyone to continue engaging with their local government and educating themselves and others on the issues we face every day. I continue to be amazed and appreciative of the time, energy and dedication of our residents who share their wisdom and concerns to help shape policy decisions for the community.

* Shane Sinenci holds the County Council seat for the East Maui residency area. He is the chair of the Environmental, Agricultural, and Cultural Preservation Committee.

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