The long-awaited draft EIS for the diversion of East Maui streams is finally here. It is a long, hard read, but it is a necessary step to holding the corporate diverters responsible for the harm they have caused to the East Maui watershed. Below is a brief summary of how we got to this point, and an explanation of what to expect next. Below that is an online form where you can tell the EIS preparers the problems you see with this proposal.
You can read the full draft EIS here. Public comments are due November 7, 2019. You can submit comments by clicking here, through the form below, or by emailed your comments directly to Earl Matsukawa at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check back regularly as we update the comment template with new information we discuss while reviewing this draft EIS. People can comment many, many times. All comments will receive a response from the EIS preparer.
*Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative is also undergoing their EA for Waiʻaleʻale and Waikoko Streams. Read more and take action here*
What Happens Next?
While we are reviewing and commenting on this draft EIS for A&B and Mahi Pono, the Board of Land and Natural Resources will also be considering a new temporary permit to the same entities so that they can continue to divert water from East Maui streams. We expect the public hearing on those permits to be Oct. 11th. Sign up to receive emails updates from us here and stay tuned to our Facebook (@sierraclubhawaii), Instagram and Twitter (@sierraclubhi)
How we got here?
Alexander & Baldwin (A&B) has requested a 30-year Water Lease from the Hawaiʻi Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR). This lease application, if approved as is, would give A&B and its corporate partner, Mahi Pono, the right to continue to divert East Maui streams flowing through four lease areas on public lands, from Honopou to Nahiku. Before a lease like this can be approved, BLNR requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be completed by the entity requesting the lease. The EIS is supposed to document all the ways the lease proposal could impact the environment and whether these impacts can be mitigated. The BLNR then uses the EIS to determine whether or not to approve a lease to A&B and Mahi Pono.
This EIS is an important step in the decision-making process. If the BLNR votes to accept the EIS findings and approve the water lease, the lease must go through a public bidding process, which A&B may or may not win. We want the EIS to be as thorough as possible so that the BLNR will have adequate information to make a decision on whether to approve a lease for this area and, if so, what types of limitations or alternative options to a 30 year lease should be considered.
Our communities have waited over 20 years for an EIS that discusses the real impacts of the longtime East Maui stream diversions. Providing your comments on this document now will help to expose the shortcomings of this document and ensure the truth about how the legacy of stream diversions have harmed the East Maui watershed and the people who rely on it.