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High court ruling favors Maui groups seeking greater stream flows

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The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled today in favor two Maui community groups and overturned a 2010 ruling by the state Commission on Water Resource Management on the amount of water that should be restored to Valley Isle streams.

Hui O Na Wai Eha and the Maui Tomorrow Foundation as well as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs contested the commission’s ruling on the amount of water that the Wailuku Water Company and the Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company should restore to the streams.

The commission ruled that 12.5 million gallons a day should be restored.

The community groups and OHA argued the amount should be more and that the commission erred in not taking into account customary Native Hawaiian rights and the public trust.

In its 88-page ruling, the high court agreed and sent the case back to the commission.

The court ruled that the commission’s decision failed to reflect its effect on traditional and customary Native Hawaiian practices and did not fully consider insteam uses.

Isaac Moriwake, Earthjustice lawyer for the two community groups, called today’s ruling “a sweet victory.”

“Our clients are in tears, tears of joy, but also tears of relief after so many years of frustration at the commission not following the law,” Moriwake said.

The commission issued its 2010 ruling after 24 days of hearings spanning from December 2007 to October 2008.

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