Molokai Water Wars part two

A dried out Kawela Stream below existing water catchment dam, negatively impacting the Kawela drinking water wells.

By The Hemowai Brothers

In the last issue we talked about how water problems brought down Molokai Ranch, and the problems Maui County now faces with their salty wells. We ended with the water problems Monsanto faces with the limited water supply for Ag use in the Molokai Irrigation System (MIS), which was built to satisfy the needs of Molokai Homesteaders.

It appears Monsanto is ready to buy the surface water system from Molokai Ranch. This system includes water catchment dams, pipes, reservoirs and water tanks. This system takes water from seven of our mountain streams, from Kalamaula to Kawela. The water goes from central Molokai to west Molokai using some twenty miles of pipes, on an island only thirty-seven miles long.

The problem is that Molokai Ranch may own the system, but the water belongs to the public. Molokai Ranch does not own the water, the water is a public trust, held by the State for all the people of Hawaii. Water is managed by the State Water Commission, and water sales, are regulated by the State Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The Ranch cannot sell something they do not own.

A petition to designate Molokai a Surface Water Management Area (SWMA) has been before the State Water Commission for some 13 years now, since 1995. Now that Molokai Ranch has decided to shut down its operations, it is time to insist action be taken by the State on this long over due petition and for an in stream flow standards (IFS), which was asked for in 1992.

State Laws insure that perennial streams are flowing at all times, from mauka to makai. An interim flow standard was set for all streams on Molokai in 1988, which was based on no scientific data collection. The state must now set IFS, as required by law for our streams in order to protect the life of these streams and the things living in the streams. Average base flow of our streams in our state has gone from 10cfs to 6cfs within the last 88 years.

Lack of Water is a big problem on our Island of Molokai, because we insist on living on the dry side of our Island. We need to be very careful how and who gets to use this precious limited resource

Monsanto needs to think twice before they try to buy something they cannot own, the mountains are the home of our gods, and the streams belong to all of us.

These same water wars are going on in Maui, type in and Click on to Maui Water Wars.


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