Skip to main content

Central Maui Stream Restoration

Upper diversion on Waiheʻe River, with the entire flow of the river being diverted, in August 2010.

Upper diversion on Waiheʻe River, with the entire flow of the river being diverted, in August 2010.

What's at Stake

Rivers and streams in the Hawaiian Islands are a public trust, and should not be drained dry for private profit and land development.

Case Overview

As the sugar plantation era phased out in Hawaiʻi, the water it had appropriated for a century should have been returned to taro fields and native habitat.

But the plantation companies turned to land development and kept taking the precious water.

A continued series of cases, several of which have gone all the way to the state supreme court, has reaffirmed the legal principle of water as a public trust and methodically succeeded in restoring flows to traditional uses.

"In the end, I believe [the Nā Wai ʻEhā] case will stand as a testament to the staying power of grassroots communities committed to justice and the ability of Earthjustice to champion their cause for the duration.

"We will not rest until justice—and The Four Great Waters of Maui—'roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.'" – Isaac Moriwake, Attorney

Case ID

6384, 1216, 2474, 2152, 2072

Clients

Hui o Na Wai `Eha

Case Updates

January 16, 2015 | Feature

Ripple Effect

After years of citizen action and court battles, "The Four Great Waters" of Maui are finally coming back to life. But the larger fight to uphold public and native Hawaiian water rights continues.

April 21, 2014 | In the News: Hawaii News Now

Groups, Companies Settle Maui Water Dispute

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.

April 10, 2014 | Feature

Restore Stream Flow

Water in Hawaiʻi is a public trust resource, protected under the state Constitution and Water Code. Plantations diverted many Hawaiian streams to water sugar cane and pineapple fields, drying out and destroying the native life and Hawaiian communities connected with those streams. Now that plantations are in decline, the water can be restored to the native streams.

March 3, 2014 | Blog Post

Restoring Instream Flow to Maui's "Four Great Waters"

Under modern Hawaiʻi law, the rivers and streams in question (collectively known as Nā Wai ʻEhā—“The Four Great Waters” of Waihe‘e, ʻĪao (traditionally Wailuku), Waiehu, and Waikapū) are a public trust; but since the sugar plantation era, two companies drained them dry for private profit.

September 6, 2013 | Feature

Grand Canyon Of The Pacific Running Dry

Native Hawaiians living on the rural southwestern shore of Kauaʻi—home of Waimea Canyon, "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific"—are witnessing the biggest water grab in the history of their island. Now they're fighting to put a stop to it, by petitioning the state with the help of Earthjustice.

Stay Connected For Updates

   Please leave this field empty