A&B to fully and permanently restore taro streams on Maui

FILE - In this April 27, 2010 file photo, water diverted from East Maui runs down a ditch toward sugar cane fields at Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. plantation in Puunene, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy, File)

Alexander & Baldwin has decided to “fully and permanently” restore priority taro streams in East Maui. The company will continue to participate in the current East Maui interim instream flow standard (IIFS) proceedings to address appropriate restoration of other streams.

The streams to be permanently restored are the priority streams identified jointly in 2001 by the State Commission on Water Resource Management and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation on behalf of its East Maui clients.

These streams are: Honopou, Hanehoi (Puolua), Waiokamilo, Kualani, Pi`ina`au, Palauhulu, and Wailuanui (East and West).

The company says they will work to restore the streams as quickly as possible. The three streams that feed the largest taro growing area in East Maui, Wailuanui, have already been restored. Diversion gates were fully opened to allow water to flow back into the stream.

This comes after the announcement in January that A&B was closing sugar operations at Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company, choosing to transition to a diversified agricultural model.

Then on April 12, 2016, the Senate passed a bill that sought to amend the water permitting process on Maui (HB2501).

The bill sparked protests as Maui taro farmers saw that bill as potentially blocking the restoration of their long-diverted streams.

“A&B has been diverting water from East Maui for over 100 years for sugar cultivation,” said Sierra Club Hawaii director Marti Townsend at the April 12 rally. “Now that the sugar industry is leaving Hawaii, it’s time for the water to flow back in the streams.”

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