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Waiahole Water Rights

Case Overview

Nearly a century ago, water vital to taro farmers, streams, and the estuary on Oʻahu's east side was diverted to sugar plantations through the Waiāhole Ditch system. The plantations are gone now, and Earthjustice represents farmers and Native Hawaiians in an effort to restore the water to the streams where it belongs. Earthjustice's efforts yielded the first return of water to Hawaiʻi's streams in history, and it continues to fight for more restoration, and is opposing further diversions of water from the system.

See the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court's historic decision in 2000, and its second decision in 2004 reaffirming the law.

Case ID



Hakipu`u `Ohana
Ka Lahui Hawai`i
Waiahole-Waikane Community Association

Related Features

Hard Taro, Hard Times

A century ago, most of the water that supported Native Hawaiian communities, their taro patches, and their fisheries on the east side of O`ahu was diverted to the central part of the island to grow sugar. When Big Sugar pulled up stakes decades later, a mighty struggle ensued. Should the water go to restore what was lost, or be used for golf courses and expensive crops?

Case Updates