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Wednesday, July 21, 2021
More Homesteading Opportunities for Native Hawaiians on Moloka‘i After Water Commission Decision
By News Release @ 5:51 PM :: 3050 Views :: DHHL, Maui County, OHA


News Release from DHHL, Jul 21, 2021

(HONOLULU) – The Hawai‘i Commission on Water Resources Management (CWRM) has approved a permit request from the Hawai‘i Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to allocate a half million gallons of water per day (.595 mgd) to supply new and existing uses of Hawaiian Home Lands on Moloka‘i.

In 1993, DHHL filed a water user permit application for a half million gallons of potable water from two wells. Earlier that same year Moloka‘i Irrigation System and Moloka‘i Ranch and the Maui Department of Water Supply had filed competing applications for water from the Kualapu‘u Aquifer System Area. Until yesterday’s ruling by the Commission, the water rights for this aquifer had been litigated for thirty years.

CWRM Deputy Kaleo Manuel noted, “The commission previously reserved nearly three million gallons per day (2.905 mgd) to DHHL. Portions of the water approved will be deducted from that reservation.”

DHHL asked the Commission to approve conditions in its water use permit application to protect traditional and customary rights.

  • Work to implement community-led efforts to replace invasive species with native species to try to improve the health of the coastal ecosystem
  • Support and encourage efforts to reduce erosion and restore native vegetation in Kalama‘ula’s mauka areas
  • Make available certain Community Use designated areas as outdoor classrooms for schoolchildren, particularly for the perpetuation of traditional and customary groundwater dependent practices and resource management.

DHHL had conducted extensive research into the potential for cultural impacts, including interviews with selected practitioners.

Moloka‘i homesteader Glenn Teves commented, “As DHHL Chair William Aila stated in his testimony, the long delay in awarding water to DHHL has caused suffering among homesteaders on Moloka‘i. Yesterday’s vote is a meaningful step towards addressing that history.”

The Commission will consider complete water use permit applications from Maui Department of Water Supply and Molokai Properties Ltd. (aka Molokai Ranch) at a future Commission meeting.

# # #


News Release from DHHL, Jul 21, 2021

(Kapolei, Oʻahu) – Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair William J. Ailā, Jr. has issued a statement on the Commission on Water Resource Management’s unanimous decision to accept the Department of Hawaiian Home Land’s (DHHL) Water Use Permit Application, which increases the Department’s Hoʻolehua Water System pumping allocation to 595,000 gallons per day.

“We are grateful for the Water Commission’s unanimous approval of our permit and their renewed acknowledgment that our water rights are a protected Public Trust use of water. This action will allow us to bring water to existing and new homesteaders while maintaining deliveries to critical island services that benefit all residents. We thank the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the many beneficiaries for their supportive testimony. While long-awaited, this effort clears one of the many barriers the Department has faced in developing new homestead lots on Molokaʻi.”

DHHL is currently a year into a two year, $37 million capital improvement project to upgrade the 80-year-old Hoʻolehua Water System. Enhancements to the system will include the installation of a 200,000-gallon storage tank, upgrades to automation systems, a new warehouse, and a new emergency generator diesel fuel tank. Other improvements involve new paved roads and fencing, along with the repair and replacement of existing tanks, pumps, transmission mains, laterals, valves, and hydrants.

The Hoʻolehua Water System serves over 2,400 customers, including approximately 500 homesteads in Hoʻolehua-Palaʻau, Kalamaʻula, and Moʻomomi. Water from this system also provides service to the post office, schools, and the airport.

The Department maintains four water systems statewide. Those water service areas are in Anahola, Kauaʻi; Hoʻolehua and Kalamaʻula, Molokaʻi; and Kawaihae and Puʻukapu, Hawaiʻi Island.


OHA statement on pending Commission on Water Resources Management decision

News release from OHA, July 20, 2021


“I am excited and anxious for the Commission on Water Resources Management’s decision this morning, on a water use permit application by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands that would provide significant relief to existing Molokaʻi homesteaders, while creating new homesteading opportunities on nearly 400 homestead lots on the island.

This year marks the centennial anniversary of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.  For nearly 30 of these past 100 years, there has been no expansion of homesteading opportunities on Molokaʻi, despite the best efforts of DHHL and OHA to create such opportunities by upholding DHHL’s priority right to water in a manner consistent with the public trust, and the state water code.

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested by both DHHL and OHA in hydrologic studies, advocacy, and litigation to uphold the public trust in Molokaʻi’s water resources, and vindicate the rights of DHHL and Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practitioners that should be prioritized and protected under the trust. Unfortunately, these efforts have been continually stymied by powerful interests, including in particular the currently closed Molokaʻi Ranch.

Finally, today, the Water Commission will have the opportunity to grant its final approval of a Water Use Permit Application from DHHL, which would increase its allocation of water from Kualapuʻu for the first time in nearly three decades. Not only would this benefit existing homesteaders and others who depend on DHHL’s water system, but it would also significantly advance the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act’s mission to return Hawaiians to the land, by providing sufficient water to establish 171 new homestead service connections and up to 210 new service connections for subdivided homestead lots.

I strongly believe that the extensively detailed and extremely well-justified application — along with the lack of any objections filed during its mandatory public notice period – merits the Commission’s favorable consideration, and I urge the Commission to exercise its decisionmaking authority to approve DHHL’s permit without any further undue delay.

Finally, I would like to mahalo the staff of the Water Commission and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands for their diligent and steadfast effort to bring us to this historical moment on the hundredth anniversary of the passage of Prince Kūhiō’s landmark legislation.”

OHA’s testimony on the DHHL Water Use Permit Application can be viewed here. 


MN: Long-awaited water allocation for Molokai homesteads approved


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