Earthjustice petitioned the state Commission on Water Resource Management to establish instream flow standards that would sustain beneficial instream uses, such as ecological protection, Native Hawaiian practices, recreation, and scenic values, for Na Wai Eha (The Four Great Waters) in Central Maui. The petition demanded that the water currently being hoarded and wasted by private companies be returned to the streams of origin.
In March 2008, the Commission decided to take over management of the four waters of Na Wai Eha. The decision means that those diverting water or planning to divert water from these streams will have to apply for a permit.
In June 2010, a majority of the Commission, over a strong dissent, issued a decision returning minimal flows to two of the four streams and leaving the other two dewatered, without any restored flows. The next step is a court appeal challenging the decision.
After ten years, environmental groups and Native Hawaiians settled a decade-long dispute concerning how much water companies may divert from Maui streams. “We are very happy with the resolution. Water will be flowing in four Na Wai Eha Streams 10 years after litigation began and more than a century after diversions began drying them out. Restored stream flows will support native species, Native Hawaiian taro farming and other public uses,” said Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake.