- Associated Press - Friday, March 11, 2016

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - Two Maui groups are calling on the state to return more water to the four major streams flowing from the West Maui Mountains in light of the closure of Hawaii’s last sugar plantation at the end of the year.

Hui o Na Wai Eha and the Maui Tomorrow Foundation filed a petition Wednesday to the state Commission on Water Resource Management. Attorney Summer Kupau-Odo, who represents the groups, told the Maui News (https://bit.ly/1RUkAfq) that an exact amount of water to be returned to Na Wai Eha — the Waihee River, Waiehu Stream, Wailuku River and Waikapu Stream — has not been requested.

The groups said in a news release the closure of the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. plantation, which is the predominant user of Na Wai Eha stream-flow diversions, would help “restore native ecosystems, revitalize local communities and Native Hawaiian culture, and recharge public drinking water aquifers.”

HC&S; diverts water through its own permit and buys water from Wailuku Water Co., according to Kupau-Odo.

Wailuku Water Co. President Avery Chumbley said he was surprised by the group’s request for more water. The company reached an agreement to restore “a substantial amount” of water to Na Wai Eha only last year, he said.

“I am not sure returning any more will provide any more improvement,” Chumbley said.

HC&S; has discussed transitioning to diversified agriculture when the sugar plantation shuts down this year. Those activities will require water, “maybe not as much as sugar, but they still need water,” Chumbley said.


Information from: The Maui News, https://www.mauinews.com

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