Kamehameha Schools Covets More Windward Stream Water

Wanted to subsidize leeward development


Kapua Sproat, Earthjustice: 599-2436


Charlie Reppun, Makawai: 239-4223


Kala Hoe, Hakipu`u `Ohana: 294-9946

As the controversy surrounding Kamehameha Schools’ (“KS’s”) divisive policies continues to rage, KS throws more fuel at the fire. On August 1, 2002, at 4:00 p.m., the Commission on Water Resource Management will hold a final public hearing on KS’s Water Use Permit Application for 4.2 million gallons per day from the Waiahole Ditch. KS’s application resuscitates the permit that it submitted and was denied in the Waiahole contested case. KS is seeking more Windward water for dust control, golf course development and landscaping in connection with Gentry’s Waiawa development on land owned by KS.

Both the Water Commission and the Hawai’i Supreme Court have concluded that the higher the volume of instream flow, “the greater the support for biological processes in the stream and its ecosystem.” KS’s application, however, seeks to increase stream diversion as opposed to restoration, coveting more stream water from rural Hawaiian communities and ecosystems to subsidize urban development on the Central plain. A coalition of Windward interests is opposing KS’s application because the streams diverted by the Waiahole Ditch are the primary source of Windward water available to support native stream life (such as `o`opu and hïhïwai), Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices (including subsistence gathering and fishing), taro cultivation, and the Kane`ohe Bay estuary and fishery.

Earthjustice attorney Kapua Sproat, who represents Makawai Stream Restoration Alliance, Hakipu`u `Ohana, Ka Lahui Hawai’i, and the Kahalu`u Neighborhood Board, explained that KS’s application is wholly inadequate. Ms. Sproat pointed out that, according to the State Water Code and the Hawai’i Supreme Court’s August 2000 decision, “non-agricultural uses precisely like those proposed by KS must establish that no alternative sources of water are available in order for an application for Windward water to even be considered. Yet, KS’s own report identifies practicable alternatives. KS has failed to satisfy the requirements of the law and the Commission should deny its application.”

Amy Luersen of the Kahalu`u Neighborhood Board urged the Water Commission to take an active role in protecting public rights in Windward streams. “The Hawai’i Supreme Court recognized that all water in Hawai’i is held in trust by the State for its people, and the Water Commission is the primary guardian of our public rights under the public trust. In light of the higher uses for Windward water, including leaving the water in our streams, the Commission must deny KS’s application. The community should not be forced to shoulder KS’s burden in another contested case hearing.”

Charlie Reppun of Makawai Stream Restoration Alliance suggested that KS avoid more conflict by withdrawing its application for water from the Waiahole Ditch and utilizing an alternative source. “KS is different from other developers because, as an educational trust for Hawaiians, its mission extends beyond the financial bottom line. KS has alternatives and should pursue another source of water. The Waiawa by Gentry project, if it’s to proceed, is ideal for integrated water resource management that would treat wastewater and re-use it on-site to satisfy non-potable needs. This application provides an opportunity for KS to set an example regarding integrated resource management instead of creating more conflict within the Hawaiian community.”

KS has been criticized in the past for taking positions that are contrary to other Hawaiian interests, including the interests of KS’s own beneficiaries and alumnae. In the Waiahole contested case, KS was accused of “cashing-in” on rural Hawaiian communities by pursuing Windward stream water in the hopes of generating short-term economic profits. KS, again, prioritizes development ahead of stream restoration and traditional and customary Hawaiian practices, including subsistence gathering and taro cultivation.

KS’s position threatens to further divide the Hawaiian community and contradicts KS’s strategic plan. Hakipu`u `Ohana member and KS alumnus Kala Hoe explained, “One of the goals of KS’s strategic plan is that ‘Kamehameha Schools will malama i ka `aina: practice ethical, prudent and culturally appropriate stewardship of lands and resources.’ Taking water from our Windward streams for landscaping and dust control in Waiawa is not culturally appropriate and KS should withdraw its application. I had hoped that the problems on KS’s Maui campus would encourage our trustees to listen to their beneficiaries, alumnae and communities. Here, those groups are sending a unified message: support your Hawaiian communities instead of taking from us, withdraw your application and leave our streams alone.”

Ilima Morrison of Ka Lahui Hawai’i commented, “Many Ka Lahui citizens have benefited from the legacy of Bernice Pauahi. One educational benefit was learning to stand up for our people and culture. Ka Lahui is here to make sure that KS does not diminish our cultural heritage in its short-sighted pursuit of financial profit. It’s not enough for KS to simply claim that it’s an institution for Hawaiians; our trustees need to practice the cultural values that they preach. KS’s trustees should show the community that they understand the concept of Malama `aina by withdrawing their permit application.”

Additional Resources

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.