Molokai Water Wars

By the Hemowai Brothers

Molokai Ranch, ran by Molokai Properties Limited (MPL), had to shut down because of many water issues such as the State Supreme Court ruling that they had no permit for drinking water from Well 17, which supplies all of West Molokai. The courts also ruled against the Ranch in their bid to get a permit for their new Waiola Well. The State Attorney General said MPL had to get off the Homesteader’s Molokai Irrigation System (MIS) because they had no Environmental Impact Statement. The county passed a new ordinance requiring a developer to prove water availability before being permitted to develop.

Maui County has to find other water sources east of Kaunakakai because its wells are going salty, like that of Kawela and the Ualapue Well. How far east do they have to go?

Last year Monsanto increased their lands by approximately 2,000 acres for genetically-engineered corn production. “Is there enough water from the MIS to meet their needs?” the question was asked at a public meeting of the Department of Agriculture last year. “No problem,” said Randolph Teruya a DOA official.

This year the MIS reservoir is at 17 feet, down two feet from last month, and eight and a half feet lower than this same time last year. That means there is approximately 212 million gallons less this year, which happened to be the amount Monsanto estimated would be its new yearly use.

The DOA has already issued a notice of a 10 percent cut back order to all non-homestead users (including Monsanto) of the MIS when the level was at 20 feet. Monsanto has asked the MIS to pump more water, and they would pay the electric costs for the pumps. The extra pumping may have bad effects on the water dike system as has happened in the past (2001), and the total environmental effects of excess pumping on the Waikolu river is not known. So, the “no problem” has in fact become a big problem.

In the next issue, we will discuss the latest move by the seed companies to get water from our mountain streams. Check out the Water Wars on www.hemowai.tv.


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