As competition for Hawaiʻiʻs fresh water continues, itʻs up to the State Water Commission to act as trustee in overseeing the rightful sharing of the water. A task made ever more difficult with the retirement of Commissioner Lawrence H. Miike next year. Dr. Miike is revered in some circles for his extensive knowledge of the laws governing water here in Hawaiʻi. Who do you want to take his place?
Ke Poʻo o ko Hawaiʻi ʻOihana Mālama Olakino. Ka Luna Hoʻokele mua o Papa Ola Lokahi. Polopeka Kula Lāʻau Lapaʻau. ʻOiai ua paʻa mua kēia mau kūlana a pau iā Kauka Lawrence Miike, ua laha kona inoa no kona kūlana manawaleʻa.
ʻO Miike kekahi o nā lālā he ʻehiku o ke Komikina Wai. Na lākou e hoʻokele i ka wai no ka pono o ka nui. He kuleana nui o ke koʻikoʻi nō hoʻi kēia. A no Miike, he hoʻokahi wale nō lula kumu e hoʻomanaʻo ai.
“E hahai i ke kānāwai. Hiki ke hoʻopuka ʻia kou manaʻo ponoʻī, akā ma loko o nā pālena o ke kānāwai,” wahi a Miike.
He lula kumu nōhie no paha kēia, eia naʻe a i ke 40 makahiki aku nei – ma mua kēia o ke Komikina – ua hoʻokele ʻia ka wai kohu huakūʻai e ka ʻoihana mahi kō. ʻO ia ka ʻekoʻa o ke kānāwai o nei au.
Wehewehe mai ka Luna Hoʻomalu o ke Komikina Wai ʻo William Ailā ʻŌpio, “ʻO ka wai he kumu waiwai na ka lehulehu ākea. ʻAʻole ʻia he huakūʻai. He kumu waiwai i mālama ʻia no ka pono o ka nui.”
“A ke ʻike ʻia nei ka hua o ia loli i kēia au,” wahi a Miike.
ʻO ka nui o ka hana a ke Komikina he kaupaona i nā pono wai a ka lehulehu ākea. A ʻo ka nui o ka paio e kumu ana ma waena o nā mahi kalo a me nā pāʻoihana i maʻa i ka loaʻa o ka wai.
“ʻIke ʻia ko lākou kuanaʻike. Paʻa ka ʻāina a ke ʻimi nei e paʻa pū ka wai. Akā ʻaʻole pēlā,” i ʻī aku ai ʻo Miike, “Ma kekahi ʻaoʻao loaʻa ka Hawaiʻi e ʻimi ana i ka wai no ka mahi kalo, he hana i nalohia ma ke kāʻili ʻia o ka wai.”
ʻO ia ke ʻano o nā paio nui e pono e hoʻoholo ʻia e ke Komikina. ʻAʻole ia he hana maʻalahi a ʻaʻole kūlauna mau nā lālā o ke Komikina. Ua ʻike kino ʻo Miike i kēia ma kona ʻimi i ka hoʻihoʻi ʻia o ka nui o ka wai o Nā Wai ʻEhā i kēlā makahiki aku nei. E waiho ana kona he leo mehameha.
“Luhi wau i ka paio no ka ʻaoʻao kūʻē ma ke Komikina, keu aku ke kū ʻole nā manaʻo hoʻoholo i ke kānāwai. Ua kākoʻo lākou i nā pono a ka pāʻoihana a ʻaʻole ke kahawai. Kauoha ʻia ka ʻekoʻa ma ke kānāwai,” i hoʻōho ai ʻo Miike
Me ka mau o nā paio no ka wai ma waena o nā mea kūkulu hale, aloha ʻāina, pāʻoihana a pēlā pū ka Hawaiʻi, na ke Komikina ia kuleana nohihi o ka hoʻokele wai no kēia hanauna a no nā hanauna e hiki mai ana. He kuleana i ʻoi aku kona koʻikoʻi me ka haʻalele o Kauka Miike i kēia makahiki aʻe.
“Me kēia ana no ka wā lōʻihi,” wahi a Miike.
E kūkala aku i kou manaʻo. E hāpai inoa no ka lālā Komikina Wai o kou koho. ʻO kēia Poʻalima ka lā pālena pau. E kele aku iā ʻŌiwi.TV no ka ʻike hou aku.
Health Department Director. Co-founder of Papa Ola Lokahi. Medical School Professor. Despite all this, Dr. Lawrence Miike is known for his non-paying job.
Miike is one of seven members on the State Water Commission, tasked with managing Hawaiʻiʻs water. A duty, he says, with one simple guideline.
“Well, first of all, you gotta follow the law. Youʻre not supposed to vote your prejudices. Now, of course if you stay within the law you can vote as much on your preferences, but you still have to be within the law,” says Miike.
This may sound simple, but for over a century the sugar industry had a stronghold on laws governing water. Laws drastically different from what is on the books today.
Chairman of the State Water Commission, William Ailā Jr. explains, “Fresh water is a public trust resource in Hawaiʻi. Nobody owns it. We all share the responsibility for it. And we have to make very careful decisions about how it’s allocated and how it’s protected. And that is what the Water Commission is set to do.”
“And weʻre just now finally getting to the cases where that is starting to be a reality,” says Miike.
Much of the Commission’s work is a balancing act. Played out mostly between taro farmers and sugar companies.
“I donʻt blame um. They got lot of land and they wanna keep the water, but its not theirs anymore,” says Miike, “And then at the same time you have all the Hawaiians who lost all their taro rights when all this water was taken away and they want it back.”
And it’s the Commission resolving these conflicts. Decisions aren’t easy and they don’t always agree. For example, Miikeʻs decision in last year’s Nā Wai ʻEhā ruling made him the lone voice.
“It’s really frustrating when I have to argue and be in the minority on Commission decisions, which I think are just wrong. Just legally wrong. I just think they went too far in the direction of supporting the commercial uses of the water versus um reviving the streams and the law is the other way,” argues Miike.
And as competition over water continues, it’s the Commission who sets the course for the future of water rights. A task made even more difficult with Miikeʻs retirement next year.
“Weʻre gonna be stuck in this kind of conflicts for a long time,” says Miike.
Make your voice heard. Nominate your choice for Water Commissioner. Deadline is this Friday. Visit ʻŌiwi.TV for more info.
Water Commission & Nomination Information:
- Commission on Water Resource Management - background information on the Commission including profiles on current Commissioners.
- Nov. 1, 2011 Public Notice: NOMINATIONS FOR COMMISSION MEMBER STATE COMMISSION ON WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Water Rights & The Law in Hawaiʻi:
- “Ola i ka Wai: A Legal Primer for Water Use and Management in Hawaiʻi” – Ka Huli Ao, Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law, William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa