“I have been testifying (for 2-3 minutes) at water meetings in Haiku and at the County Council since I was 15 years old, I am now 53. I have witnessed most of the other people that spoke that evening, do the same thing over and over and over again – 3 minutes to discuss a whole web of life from Mauka to Makai (that our life depends on) and that we are watching be destroyed! You wonder why people get mad?!?!… You have no idea how maddening it is to witness the collapse of life itself and when you relay the issues over and over and over again to some “authority” who wants to hear your position, you have only 3 minutes!! ” Maui Resident…
Below is the entire email message sent out from this resident to certain Senators that are key to the future of HB1326 (the water theft bill). I am posting this to cast further light on the back ground of the issue, and to describe how many residents are feeling at the moment. The writer gave me permission to repost, when I asked if I could do so without naming her.
Dear Senator XXX, March 14,2019
I am the lady who barked out at the end of your hearing at the Haiku Community Center last month that “there is so much more that you and the water commission and all the law makers in Honolulu do not know” about the devastating effect of the total and complete water theft from the East Maui Watershed for the last 150 years.
I have lived in the East Maui watershed for 49 years on a very large, totally dry streambed (except for storms) and have witnessed a massive deterioration of its health and balance in that time, including the near shore sea life. And that is after 100 years of abuse prior to my arrival. The stories from the “old timers” of how it was before the water theft altered the environment so drastically, fills one with wonder and awe… and deep sadness at the loss that has occurred and is continuing to occur. Literally the death of Paradise on Earth. You may think that I am exaggerating… but I am not. I have traveled the world extensively. Maui No Ka Oi is real.
I have been testifying (for 2-3 minutes) at water meetings in Haiku and at the County Council since I was 15 years old, I am now 53. I have witnessed most of the other people that spoke that evening, do the same thing over and over and over again – 3 minutes to discuss a whole web of life from Mauka to Makai (that our life depends on) and that we are watching be destroyed! You wonder why people get mad?!?!… You have no idea how maddening it is to witness the collapse of life itself and when you relay the issues over and over and over again to some “authority” who wants to hear your position, you have only 3 minutes!! And yet you know that when they return to Oahu, A&B has its headquarters and paid lobbyists just around the corner from the Ledge (not mention, relatives working at every level of government) who get a lot more time than 2-3 minutes to promote their cause and have a lot more leverage ($$$$) to accomplish their agenda. Without any accountability, they want to continue to take as much water from the East Maui Watershed as it can produce, leaving next to nothing for the flora and fauna that live there, or the residents, farmers, gatherers and fishermen.
There is a history of reckless abuse and negligence by EMI in the East Maui Watershed and A&B for the `Aina. If that abuse is allowed to continue the watershed will become less and less effective at collecting water and sending it into the aquifer (that means less water for future generations.) As the Mauka to Makai flows continue to be blocked at 50 or more streams and tributaries, the health of the watershed, stream life and fisheries is put in severe peril.
Where is the accountability in this bill? Where are the required steam flow measurements pre and post diversion of the water? What is the established base flow that will be kept in the streams to keep the watershed alive and functioning? And what is the public platform for reporting streamflow measurements and diversions? Where are the required upgrades to the diversion system that allow for stream life to pass up and down the river? Which total diversions will be torn down and reconstructed to allow for stream flow, fauna flow and a fair amount of water to be diverted? Where is the required contribution to a fund/organization that manages invasive species impacting the watershed? Simultaneously, use of Roundup along the diversion ditches kills native stream life and flora – important and delicate parts in the web of life there. Where are the reparations to the few native Hawaiians left (dangling by a thread) who’s civilization, culture and communities were destroyed by the total theft of the water by EMI & A&B not abiding by the original agreements in the contracts for the water? Where is the requirement and funding to create an organization (a consortium of East Maui Watershed stake holders) that will together form a management plan and system and enforcement that will actually protect the watershed and its inhabitants in a sustainable way, to maximize yields (on and off stream), far into the future?
EMWP (East Maui Watershed Partnership) only manages above 3000 ft. elevation and, their actions are deleteriously effecting Our main area of concern which is below 3000 ft. elevation. This is the area with the State leases and the diversions that this Bill impacts and, that needs pono management and protection.
Furthermore, regarding off-stream uses that significantly impact water consumption:
Where in this bill are the requirements for Mahi Pono to improve the tilth of the soil in the central valley by certain measurable parameters in a specific timeline so that their soil actually holds water instead of letting it all run off the surface and kill the reefs? Improving the soil’s ability to retain water will drastically reduce the amount of water that is needed to irrigate the fields and thereby be taken from the watershed. The central valley needs to be contoured with swales to retain rainfall, it needs unlined reservoirs used for aquifer recharge and it needs lined reservoirs to serve as storm water storage for farming.
Everyone wants to see the central valley of Maui farmed instead of developed. So stop pitting small farmers against watershed protectors… we are on the same side!!! There is plenty of water. But you cannot destroy the watershed to get it. EMI and A&B have been destroying the watershed and this bill HB1326 will allow Mahi Pono and EMI to continue to destroy the watershed. Kill this bill!
This is a bad bill, lumping all the islands together!!! Each island is unique and their watershed issues, users and demands are unique. The only thing that is the same is the corporations wanting to take everything and not caring if they destroy the environment to make a profit. So, they create a bill benefiting their cause by lumping all the islands together. Bad bill. You can point that out. Some rules work statewide like no drinking and driving, and some do not. Every watershed is unique, don’t pretend otherwise.
Those of us that are aware that we live on the most remote landmass in the world, have lived here for generations and hope that our future generations can continue to live on these tiny remote islands, realize the value of protecting our source of life – the environment, especially the watersheds. This is a serious matter!
In conference, you will be splicing and dicing tiny nuances of this bill when what you need to be discussing is not even in the bill at all!! You will be discussing apples & oranges when you need to be talking about bananas and Kalo. Kill the bill! And save your seat.
Educated and sincerely concerned for our future,
A Maui resident…
What a fantastic letter written by a dedicated citizen. I wonder if it will have any impact on the people who need to be impacted?