OHA Board Chair: Water Use Permit Application on Molokaʻi Would Enable 171 New Homestead Service Connections
Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey of Maui released a statement today discussing the upcoming Department of Hawaiian Home Lands water use permit application on Molokaʻi.
In a written statement, Lindsey said she is “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, saying it would provide “significant relief” to existing Molokaʻi homesteaders, while creating new homesteading opportunities on nearly 400 homestead lots on the island.
The action comes as the DHHL celebrated the centennial anniversary of Prince Kūhiō’s landmark 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 DHHLʻs priority right to water in a manner consistent with the public trust, and the state water code,” said Lindsey.
According to Lindsey, 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 Molokaʻiʻs water resources, and vindicate the rights of DHHL and Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practitioners. She said these priorities should be recognized and protected under the trust.
She pointed toward “powerful interests,” including “in particular the currently closed Molokaʻi Ranch,” saying efforts in the past have been “stymied” by such entities.
“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 DHHLʻs water system, but 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,” said Lindsey.
Lindsey said she believes that the application and lack of objections filed during the public notice period merits the Commission’s favorable consideration. “I urge the Commission to exercise its decision-making authority to approve DHHL’s permit without any further undue delay,” she said.
Established by the state Constitutional Convention in 1978, OHA is a semi-autonomous state agency mandated to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians. Guided by a board of nine publicly elected trustees, OHA aims to fulfill its mandate through advocacy, research, community engagement, land management and the funding of community programs.