After a court decision found that Alexander and Baldwin’s (A&B) yearly permits authorizing water diversion violated state laws, they will restore flow to only 7 streams in East Maui.
Alexander and Baldwin made an important announcement concerning the restoration of water flow to East Maui streams.
President and CEO of Alexander and Baldwin Christopher Benjamin said, “As a result of the cessation of sugar operation on Maui we announced the release of water on a permanent and full basis to a number of streams that were identified in 2001 as priority streams for taro cultivation in East Maui. The shutdown of sugar really has created an opportunity for us. Despite the many negative impacts of the shutdown, the positive is that now we believe in the future, while we will need water for diversified agriculture, we will not need as much as we needed for sugar.”
The announcement comes amidst a legal battle for the restoration of 27 streams in East Maui that began back in 2001.
Camille Kalama, an attorney for the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation said, “On January 8th the circuit court here issued a ruling and what she did was she basically said that she agreed with our clients that the sugar company right now today has no legal rights to take the water out of East Maui. And what that means is that when we come to todayʻs press conference and the announcement that the company is choosing to release water into these taro streams, itʻs like giving something that they donʻt have the ability to give, because the court has already said that they donʻt have that right. A & B has only ever put water back in these streams or restored to these streams when it has to. And right now the court is saying youʻre supposed to give it all back and they are saying okay weʻll give some. So as far as next steps, thereʻs a lot of things gong on but our community, the kalo farmers, Nā Moku, they’re going to continue fighting for the ʻāina, for the water that deserves to be put back there, for all the streams, species, the fish, the fishermen and all the practitioners that rely on on those places. That has always been their guiding force and they will continue to move regardless of what everyone else does.”