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Kānaka Maoli Group, Hui Wai Ola Challenges State's Recommendation for TMT Water Pollution Permit

Kānaka Maoli Group, Hui Wai Ola Challenges State's Recommendation for TMT Water Pollution Permit (KAHEA)

Posted by Lauren Muneoka at May 05, 2021 10:20 PM | Permalink

Photo credit: Miwa Tamahana, Hilo-Hamakua coast to Mauna Kea.

May 4, 2021 - The Kānaka Maoli cultural practitioner group, Hui Wai Ola filed a complaint for a contested case against the Department of Health’s “tentative” recommendation to approve a stormwater runoff pollutant discharge permit to the Thirty-Meter Telescope International Observatory, LLC (TMT) on Mauna Kea. The permit is required prior to TMT construction to prevent harmful runoff to Kemole gulch, Ku‘upaha‘a gulch, Puʻupōhakuloa gulch, Pōhakuloa gulch, and Wailuku river. DOH’s rules allow denial of the permit for previous violations, misrepresentations, and changed conditions amongst other reasons. Hui Wai Ola pointed out the TMT previously violated its permit by allowing idle construction machines to leak oil on Mauna Kea in 2015, and incorrectly “certifie[d]” that construction runoff would not impact Hawaiian cultural resources or practices. Hui Wai Ola'so filing explains their members “are taught knowledge of the gathering and use of waters from sources that begin as mist or rain on the Northern Plateau of the Mauna Kea summit. This wai (water) serves cultural medicinal purposes and must be extremely pure for these purposes. This sacred wai is contributed to by natural runoff on and around the plateau of the north side of the Mauna Kea summit. Changing how water enters the underground aquifers in this area may significantly impact the purity and quality of this water.” Founding Hui member, Laulani Teale commented, “Our Hui and I are seeking a contested case hearing to ensure that the Department of Health protects our most sacred water traditions by denying any permit that would enable harms to our many pure and fragile sacred waters originating on or connected to Mauna Kea’s North side, along with our practices, other sacred water practices, and the sacred Indigenous practices of future generations.” DOH’s deadline for comments on its proposed TMT water pollution permit is June 7, 2021; email: or by mail at P.O. BOX 3378, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96801-3378.

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