Molokai Ranch to Lose Access to Molokai Irrigation System.
Attorney General: Molokai Ranch must get off the Molokai Irrigation System until an environmental assessment has been completed.
Molokai Ranch must complete an environmental assessment in order to continue using the Molokai Irrigation System (MIS) to transport water to its west-end properties. A letter from the attorney general’s office said that the Ranch must get off the state run pipeline until the study is done.
In the letter, deputy attorney general, Myra M. Kaichi, said Molokai Ranch must remain off of the system “until all environmental effects, if any, are sufficiently and properly addressed.”
Currently Molokai Ranch is allowed to use the MIS to transfer a maximum of two million gallons per day from it’s central Molokai water source (Well No. 17) to the dryer west side of the island.
Because the MIS is considered state property, an environmental assessment must be done before any agency may use it. This is in compliance with the Hawaiian Environmental Policy Act, according to Alan Murakami, an attorney with the Native Hawaiian Legal Council (NHLC).
Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) director Sandra Lee Kunimoto said she has not received any advice or information from the attorney general, other than a copy of the letter addressed to the NHCL.
In July 2007, the NHLC submitted a letter on behalf of the Molokai Homesteaders and Farmers Alliance (MHFA) warning the state attorney general that an environmental assessment was needed before the HDOA and Molokai Ranch could move forward with a new lease agreement.
“We really need to look at the environmental impacts of this moving of water to the west end, and this includes the impacts to the whole mountain ecosystem. There has never been an environmental assessment done in the 30 plus years since the agreement to take water from the central aquifer (well No.17) to Kaluakoi was approved,” said homestead farmer Glenn Teves.
Molokai Ranch Spokesperson John Sabas declined to comment.
Molokai Ranch can still transport water from its mountain sources without the MIS, but without the system it would be unable to bring water from Well. No.17, according to MIS manager Byron Alcos.
During an MIS meeting on August 18, HDOA deputy chairman Duane Okamoto told the Molokai Dispatch that he didn’t foresee a possible removal of Molokai Ranch from the MIS as being problematic.
“At this time there are certainly other sources for water,” Okamoto said.
MHFA President Lynn DeCoite said that although they are plaintiffs in the case, they do not want west end residents to have to go without water. DeCoites said they will give Molokai Ranch a reasonable amount of time to disconnect Well No. 17 from the MIS and connect it with their mountain sources.
“Our concern is that the Molokai Irrigation System be used for its intended purpose and this is to first supply water to the Hoolehua homestead areas, and secondly to serve other farmers in the Kualapuu/Hoolehua area,” said DeCoite.
The State has allowed non-agricultural use of the MIS since 1975, when it accepted an agreement allowing water to be transferred to the Kaluakoi resort area. This took place just prior to the adoption of the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act which would have triggered an environmental assessment preceding the approval of such an agreement.
The water transfer agreement was inherited by Molokai Ranch when it bought out the defunct Kaluakoi Resort in 2001. Since then the agreement has been amended several times. The last iteration of Ranch’s water transfer agreement expired on April 30, 2006. The current proposed agreement would extend from May 2006 to June 30, 2011.