Meetings Spill Over

Water Group needs more time to complete interim report.

Photo and Story By Brandon Roberts

Seven meetings were not enough for the Molokai Water Working Group (MWWG) to finalize their recommendations to state and county agencies. MWWG said Molokai Properties Limited’s (MPL) participation and early withdrawal from the group necessitated several more meetings.

By letter dated Jan. 28, 2008, MPL withdrew its participation in the MWWG just before the company was scheduled to make a presentation on its water issues to the group. The letter stated, “We believe continued activity in the MWWG will not have any meaningful or useful results.”

Earlier, MPL released their second Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which included its assessment of the MWWG.

“As of Dec. 2007, it was unclear as to the likely outcome of the WWG’s deliberations because of the political agenda of many of the members and polarization of the participants on many issues.”

MWWG said recruitment was highly contentious due to Molokai Properties Limited (MPL) La`au Point proposal and their Master Land Use Plan. Consequently, the membership discussion consumed almost three meetings.

State and federal agencies gave presentations for another two and a half meetings. This left two meetings to compile the advisory report to the State Commission on Water Resource Management (Water Commission).

“Our last several meetings were very productive and everyone wants to continue on and finish the job we set out to do.,” said MWWG member DeGray Vanderbilt. “We had some early disturbances, but worked through them and now we have momentum and everyone seems anxious to work constructively toward a final report to the Water Commission”.

The March 19 meeting at Kulana `Oiwi was scheduled to be the final meeting of the MWWG. Review of the interim report was completed, however the final report has not been submitted to the Water Commission. Members approved additional meetings to complete the 2007 report.

The approved interim report states MWWG’s primary purposes are to update recommendations from the 1996 report, and to create standards and principles on the availability of water. The report is to be updated every two years, however no action has been taken for 11 years.

“Let us be proactive and less reactive,” said Malia Akutagawa, MWWG member. She recommends quantifying the amount of water necessary to protect native Hawaiian practices, and commit to finding baseline data, or averages for sustainable usage.

The MWWG plans a work-shop with County Water Department officials on their concerns and recommendations for the future of Molokai water. The Group also intends to secure accurate water source data, as well as existing and future water use projections from all the major water providers on Molokai.


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