Upcountry’s water supply is threatened
Here are the essential facts in the conflict over House Bill 1326.
• With the end of sugar, there is enough water available to accommodate the needs of the taro growers, restore the streams, give Upcountry what it needs and supply Mahi Pono’s plan to replace sugar in the central valley.
• The native agriculturists and the streams have already received their allotment via court judgments. Domestic water supply is also protected. However, the only way the county can access the necessary water supply is through the East Maui Irrigation system.
• Because of the opposition from a coalition of Hawaiians and others, the only legal mechanism to allow that supply to continue may be blocked. Affected communities would include Ulupalakua, Kula, Pukalani, Haliimaile, Makawo and Haiku.
• I do not get the opposition’s complaint. The taro growers have the water they long sought. The streams are flowing. My sense is the current conflict is based on animosity toward and fear of A&B. The opposition cannot accept their longtime adversary receiving any further water leases in East Maui.
• But there is no mechanism — other than A&B’s 150-year old ditch system — to supply Upcountry. And without East Maui water, Mahi Pono’s promise will die.
• If the county does lose access to the ditch water, and Upcountry water supply is negatively affected, God help any Maui County politician who was involved in making that happen.