Rough Waters

To describe the disputes over East Maui streams as long-running doesn’t quite do them justice. And they are as bitter as they are long-lived.

The network of tunnels, pipes, and ditches that convey water from East Maui to the central plains is necessary to keep Maui green, say representatives of Alexander & Baldwin, the former sugar giant and now champion of diversified agriculture.

But to many of the small communities of East Maui that rely on the same water to irrigate their taro fields and supply them with water for drinking and other uses, that’s no excuse for lax management of the company’s diversion permits.

A contested case hearing over temporary permits allowing A&B to keep diverting the streams has been requested. If granted, it would represent just the latest development in the dispute. Few would argue it would represent the last, however.