NEW & NOTEWORTHY: Water War, Reef Rent, and a Fund Raiser

posted in: June 2012, Water | 0

Water War: On June 6, the Hawai`i Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the appeals of the Commission on Water Resource Management’s June 2010 amendments to the interim instream flow standards (IIFS) for four west Maui streams collectively known as Na Wai `Eha.

The Water Commission, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar, and Wailuku Water Company have all argued that because no permits are involved, the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the appeals filed by Hui O Na Wai `Eha, the Maui Tomorrow Foundation, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

In related news, Na Moku `Aupuni o Ko`olau Hui’s appeal of the Water Commission’s decision to deny it a contested case hearing over amendments made in October 2010 not to amend the IIFS for 19 east Maui streams appears to have come to a halt.

In January, the Hawai`i Supreme Court remanded the group’s appeal back to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, which had initially dismissed the case because, in its opinion, the commission had not issued an appealable order. But the ICA has been silent since the Supreme Court ruling.

Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation attorney Alan Murakami, representing Na Moku, says he is preparing to take his fight back to the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, which controls how and whether the East Maui Irrigation Company/Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., diverts east Maui water, over state lands, to central Maui.

The Land Board must also address the water needs of the 19 streams that the Water Commission chose not to restore any flow to, Murakami says.

“They’re not supposed to rubber stamp what the commission did,” he says.

Reef Rent: A mishap during the deployment of artificial reef modules off Keawakapu, Maui, has not only caused a delay in building a new reef site off `Ewa, O`ahu, but is also costing the state an extra $80,000 in storage costs.

Last month, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources requested a procurement exemption so that it can repay a former contractor, Pioneer Machinery, Inc., $80,000 in rent paid to store 2,500 concrete artificial reef modules left idle after 125 modules mistakenly fell on a live coral formation off the Keawakapu artificial reef, off Kihei, Maui, in December 2009.

Pioneer had a one-year contract to construct, deploy, and store some 4,000 modules for the DLNR, nearly 1,500 of them at Keawakapu. But the incident prompted the U.S. Corps of Engineers to delay permit renewal and plans to install the remaining modules in waters off `Ewa, O`ahu.

“The permit delay is expected to continue until sometime this fiscal year or early next fiscal year when an environmental assessment is completed on the Keawakapu incident,” the exemption request states.

Pioneer’s contract expired in September 2010, but former DLNR director Laura Thielen had agreed to reimburse the company for all storage costs until all the modules were deployed or moved elsewhere.

The DLNR has made arrangements to move the remaining modules to a parcel it owns.

Save the Date: August 24, that is. On that evening, Environment Hawai`i will be having a fund-raising dinner and silent auction in Hilo, at the `Imiloa Astronomy Center.

The special guest speaker will be Jonathan Price of the University of Hawai`i-Hilo Geography Department. Anyone who has heard Price talk knows just how engaging his presentations are – whether he’s talking about the origins of Hawaiian plants, the likely consequences of global warming at the local scale, or the intricacies of mapping distributions of species and ecological communities.

Join us for an evening of music, delicious food, conversation, and enlightenment. Watch this space for details.

Volume 22, Number 11 June 2012

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