Somehow, it seems, Anthony Pignataro has missed the obvious in his piece, “Water for HC&S” (The Maui 10, June 21, 2007). Warren Watanabe didn’t say small Upcountry farms “would not exist” because he was trying to make nice with HC&S; he was simply stating the facts. As Anthony pointed out, HC&S founders Henry Baldwin and Samuel Alexander built the original ditch of what would become the East Maui Irrigation (EMI) system. Then they built all the rest of the ditches and tunnels that bring water from as far as Nahiku to the dry Upcountry area. The company has maintained and operated the system for more than a century, right up to the present day.
Some people question whether HC&S/EMI should have control of all that water, but at this point, the reality is that they do. If those ditches and the people who run them quit working, there would be no water from Haiku to Kula, for farmers or anyone else. I once asked a county Water Department employee if the county is working on plans for taking over the system, and the answer was an emphatic “no!” So, until someone decides to terminate EMI’s water lease, and someone else steps up to take over the system, the entire Upcountry community depends on that system.
-Jill Engledow, via email