Sierra Club Responds to Publishing Draft EIS for the Diversion of East Maui Streams

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi (September 23, 2019) — A&B/Mahi Pono released a draft environmental impact statement for the diversion of stream water from East Maui.  While Sierra Club volunteers, staff, and experts review the document, Marti Townsend, Director for the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi, issued the following statement:

“We have heard the big promises of big agriculture before, and we lived through the hardship it created.  While the Sierra Club firmly supports agriculture in Central Maui, we will not allow future agriculture there to undermine the health of East Maui’s streams. Now is the time for these new proposed uses of stream water to be thoroughly vetted and analyzed before they harm stream ecosystems mauka to makai, and the communities that rely upon them.  

For starters, it is irresponsible in the age of climate change to assume that any activity could continue for 30 years.  This is especially true of an activity so intertwined with the health of our environment like stream diversions. The State has all the authority it needs to protect the public’s streams from excessive, profit-driven diversions; it just needs to use it.

We also fully expect the historic trauma caused by these diversions to be addressed before future takes of stream water are even considered.  Dilapidated stream intakes leave old cement, rebar, and piping in the streams, which block the migration of native stream life and turns small pools of water into mosquito breeding grounds. Under no circumstances should that be allowed to continue.” 

Public comments on the draft EIS for the diversion of East Maui streams is open through November 7, 2019.  The Draft EIS can be found at: http://oeqc2.doh.hawaii.gov/EA_EIS_Library/2019-09-23-MA-DEIS-East-Maui-Water-Lease.pdf

The next set of temporary permits for the on-going diversion of East Maui streams is expected to be heard by the Board of Land and Natural Resources on October 11 or 25. 

Trial on whether the Board of Land and Natural Resources violated its public trust duties when it issued the current set of temporary permits to A&B/Mahi Pono is expected in May 2020.