There was a pretty interesting story on the state Commission on Water Resource Management contested case hearing involving Alexander & Baldwin’s thirst for East Maui water in The Maui News on Saturday, Feb. 11. Though the company’s subsidiary Hawaii Commercial & Sugar (HC&S) no longer grows sugar and wants to transition to “diversified agriculture,” the company says it needs 115 million gallons of water every day. Though down from the 200 million gallons a day the company used when growing sugar, it’s still a whole lot of water.
But buried fairly deep in the story is fascinating statement by Maui Tomorrow Executive Director Albert Perez on A&B’s plan: “It ‘doesn’t have any timeline or steps on how they are going to get there,’” Perez told the paper. The reporter who wrote the story then wrote, “He added that a map of anticipated diversified agricultural uses keeps changing.”
This is a very curious point that should have demanded follow-up from Perez, but there wasn’t any. This is a problem, because A&B is selling off at least some parcels of their vaunted 36,000 acres of cane land, so their maps should be changing. After all, on Feb. 6, we broke the story that A&B had sold 339 acres of prime Paia land to a Mainland businessman.
But had the paper printed some sort of follow-up with Perez, readers would have discovered that A&B’s maps are changing–but not in a timely enough manner. See, that Paia land sale had taken place back in December 2016, but according to maps A&B used in the contested case hearing, that land was still appearing on a map of the company’s land holdings until Feb. 3, 2017 (this is the map at the top of this page, and I put a green circle arround the 339 acres that sold in December).
But on that day, A&B issued a new map that suddenly showed the company no longer owned those acres. Here’s that new map:
So clear up until early February, A&B was including the 339 acres it had already sold in its case on how much water it needs to function–in this case, the land was designated for bio-energy crops. But the new A&B map dated Feb. 3 shows those acres to be white–no longer owned by the company (the surrounding lands also carry new crop designations, as Perez noted in The Maui News story).
In any case, the Commission on Water Resource Management won’t rule on the East Maui water matter for at least another month, according to The Maui News.