The True Cost of The Ranch’s Water Problem

Timmy Leong looks at the old Molokai Ranch mountain water reservoir, which is filled by stream diversions in the Kamakou mountain range. 

Editorial by Walter Ritte

This problem will affect ALL of our pocketbooks on Molokai, as the county may one day be responsible for Molokai Ranch’s water companies.

Here are the costs proposed by the PUC now: Kaluakoi will increase from $3.18 to $4.48 per 1000 gallons. Kualapu`u and Maunaloa rates will go way up from $1.85 to a staggering $4.10 per 1000 gallons. These rates are arbitrary, unprecedented, and ridiculous. The state government is siding with big business and putting the solution to this water problem on the backs of the public.

Molokai Ranch mismanaged their water systems, and now wants to dump them. We need to realize what the actual costs of this abandonment are. 

Who will pay for the recent loss of permission to use the Molokai Irrigation System (MIS) as a means to transmit water from Well 17 to the West End? The cost will include an EA or EIS, and may very well include the need for a new pipeline from Kualapu`u to the West End

The Ranch also needs a new water permit to even use Well 17. Can you imagine the cost for these permit hearings before the State Water Commission? What’s more, the Ranch’s water supply from the mountain streams is now in jeopardy. Formal requests to implement “Instream Water Flow Standards” to protect the streams have been filed.

Add these three problems to the substandard water delivery system on the West End, and you begin to see the true picture of what the Ranch is dumping and what the true cost to ALL of us will be if and when the county takes over.     

To create a crisis, the Ranch is now jeopardizing our health and safety by threatening to shut down their utilities come the end of August. So how do we protect ourselves in spite of a governor who is supporting Molokai Ranch and telling the county what to do?

The first important step is solidarity; attend the Water Community Meeting at 6p.m. on Wednesday, August 20, at 6 p.m. at Mitchell Pauole Center. We will invite our elected officials, and we will present a public voice and positions on this issue. The amount of people turning out for this meeting will determine who will end up paying for these mismanaged water systems: you and I, or big business.

We will demand that the government hold Molokai Ranch responsible for the mismanagement of its water systems and not the community. We will demand a physical and financial audit of the water systems. We will call for eminent domain proceedings against Molokai Ranch lands. We will denounce the PUC and DCCA for their negligence and shameful roles against the public, whom they should have been protecting. We will decry this shameful and dangerous precedent the governor has set in allowing her agencies to bail out big business and place the burden on the rate payers.

We need the community’s support as we begin to organize and speak as one on August 20 at MPC. Don’t let the governor and Molokai Ranch get away with this one.


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