Hawaii governor urges lawmakers to revive water rights bill

April 19, 2019 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s governor has urged state lawmakers to support a bill to change land lease requirements that could affect water rights.

Democratic Gov. David Ige sent a letter to state legislative leaders asking them to resurrect a bill that would give public water users more time to meet long-term lease requirements, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.

Ige’s letter Thursday to Senate President Ron Kouchi and House Speaker Scott Saiki included a memo outlining impacts on farming, ranching and clean energy projects if HB 1326 is not passed and permit holders lose access to public water after this year.


Continued water use for revocable permit holders is not ensured if the bill does not pass, according to the memo by administrative director Ford Fuchigami.

“If you believe that the continued holdover of revocable water permits is in the public interest, I recommend that we urge the Legislature to act to avoid the possible adverse ramifications,” Fuchigami wrote.

Fuchigami also outlined impacts on hydroelectric plants on Kauai and the Big Island and Honolulu real estate company Alexander & Baldwin.

Opponents of the measure say the true focus of the bill is Alexander & Baldwin, which could owe Mahi Pono as much as $62 million if sufficient water is not available for central Maui land that the farming company purchased from the real estate firm.

“He is essentially using his office to influence pending legislation to circumvent a court ruling for the benefit of one major corporation,” Hawaii Sierra Club Executive Director Marti Townsend said in a statement.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com