It has been almost a decade since East Maui taro farmers and environmentalists petitioned the state to return water rights that were given to large agricultural operations a century ago. The water is being used by Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company, the last remaining sugar producer in the state and a remnant of a bygone era. The company says that diverting its water supply will put it out of business and leave 800 employees out of work.
Some of you have written in our discussion areas that water rights and access to water are intrinsically linked to land use. Without water, no crops can grow, so without water, land loses much of its value. An Associated Press story reprinted far and wide Monday highlighted the conflicting points of view and provided good background information.
The debate over the Na Wai Eha streams on Maui, with roots so deep that a film on the dispute titled “Release Our Water” is scheduled to be shown during the Oiwi Film Festival this weekend, seems to be drawing to a head.