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OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

OHA statement on pending Commission on Water Resources Management decision

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.


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