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12 more east Maui streams gain instream flow standards

A dozen additional east Maui streams and tributaries are the beneficiaries of amended interim insteream flow standards, or IIFS, which are meant keep water in the streams and enhance the downstream habitat and upstream connectivity for native stream biota.

On Tuesday the state Commission on Water Resource Management amended the IIFS for the streams and tributaries in the Huelo region of east Maui and reserved water for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

The modifications to the East Maui Irrigation System will keep about 40% of the water in the streams, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources noted in a news release today. The amended standards will provide for registered riparian uses, recreational uses and improvements to the estuary and nearshore ecosystem.

Throughout Gov. David Ige’s administration, a total of 87 instream flow standards were established across 56 watersheds, and CWRM reserved 18.44 million gallons per day of nonpotable water for DHHL.

For four years CWRM staff explored how modifications to the water system can better protect instream uses. They also focused on climate change impacts to freshwater resources and the potential implication for non-instream uses, such as domestic water use for the public and agriculture in the Central Valley of Maui.

“This Commission action is a first step in seeking balance and equity for these streams that have been diverted for over 100 years,” said CWRM Deputy Director Kaleo Manuel in a statement.

Next, East Maui Irrigation will submit necessary permitting to construct the modifications. Staff will hold quarterly meetings to bring together stakeholders affected by EMI’s system and discuss implementation of the IIFS and the water needs of Maui’s Department of Water Supply, DHHL, Mahi Pono and the general community.

“I’m so proud of our work over the past eight years for holistic water resource management between our agency — DLNR and CWRM — and communities, by protecting native forests to replenish our aquifers and establishing instream flow standards on streams,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case in a statement.

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