An Optimistic Approach to Molokai’s Water Woes

Any veteran of meetings on Molokai can tell you that the water debate can get tense. On Saturday, August 18, the Department of Agriculture (DOA) took an initial step toward alleviating growing frustrations by listening to community concerns. The move came after a months of edgy meetings in which the Molokai Irrigation System board (MIS), Molokai Ranch, and Hawaiian homesteaders have debated water use issues.

Saturday’s meeting was specifically designed to foster better communication amongst all entities and individuals. DOA administrators hope the meetings will result in a guideline for the proper management of the Molokai Irrigation System. One issue at stake is a proposed agreement that would allow Molokai Ranch to use the MIS to transfer water to west Molokai for mixed usage – a proposal that homesteaders have threatened to litigate.

At the end of the meeting, a majority of attendees said that they were grateful for a chance to be heard and to participate in a plan which might benefit Molokai for generations to come.

“This kind of process has never been done on Molokai before,” said Adolph Helm, chairman of the MIS advisory board. “We have to do a better job to protect agriculture and the homesteaders, and we must build trust with one another.”

Members of the community who have been the most vocal about their concerns over water use and the MIS issues, were not able to attend Saturday’s meeting. Among the prominent members absent were Lynn DeCoite, Walter Ritte, Glenn Teves and Kammy Purdy.

Saturday’s meeting was the first of three. Upcoming meetings will address concerns relative to the MIS, including maintenance, the function of the advisory board and the direction the MIS and its users will head to in the future. The next meeting is on Sept. 8, with more details to follow. All are encouraged to come and participate.


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