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After 150 Years, Water Returns to Maui Streams

On October 13, 2014, water finally returned to Wailuku River (also known as ʻĪao Stream) and Waikapū Stream on Maui. The streams, part of Nā Wai ʻEhā (“The Four Great Waters”), had been diverted for more than 150 years by private corporations.

After 150 Years - Water Returns to Maui Streams

(Video footage from the stream flow restoration is used courtesy of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.)

Earthjustice began legal action on behalf of Maui community groups Hui o Nā Wai ʻEhā and Maui Tomorrow Foundation to restore instream flows to Nā Wai ʻEhā—“The Four Great Waters” of Waiheʻe, Waiehu, Wailuku, and Waikapū—in 2004. Together with our long-time ally, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, we took the case all the way to the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court—and won.

It was here in Wailuku and Waikapū that the first sugar plantations on Maui began draining the streams more than 150 years ago. Earthjustice's work to rectify 150 years of injustice is far from over. In addition to releasing water, the diverters still must modify their diversion dams to eliminate dry stretches and ensure passage of native stream life. Nonetheless, on October 13, 2014, Earthjustice and our partners took a moment to celebrate this hard-won and long-awaited victory. All four waters of Nā Wai ʻEhā are now flowing for the first time since the 19th century. Learn more about the Restore Stream Flow campaign.