By Pacific Business News (Honolulu)

Hui o Na Wai Eha and the Maui Tomorrow Foundation Inc. have reached a settlement with the County of Maui following a lawsuit that challenged the Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed water treatment plant that would take additional water from Maui streams.

The community groups filed the EIS challenge June 21 in state court on Maui, seeking to prevent the Waiale Treatment Facility project from moving forward.

The settlement, announced Wednesday, states the current impact statement will be invalidated.

⿿We are glad the county agreed to resolve this case amicably and sees the need to carefully examine the costs and benefits of this proposal,⿝ said Hui o Na Wai Eha President John Duey, in a prepared statement. ⿿Streamflows are a public trust that deserve to be treated with maximum transparency and respect.⿝

Alexander & Baldwin Inc. proposed to build the plant, which would treat up to 9 million gallons a day from Waihee River and would deliver the water by the ditch system owned by A&Bâ¿¿s Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar plantation and Wailuku Water Co.

⿿We have always cooperated with the county for a new water treatment system,⿝ Grant Chun, vice president of A&B Properties Inc., told PBN. ⿿The settlement will allow the water issue to be addressed without the cloud of a lawsuit.⿝ Chun also said it was important to address ⿿all potential impacts⿝ that the water treatment facility may have, and A&B thinks that this effort ⿿could prove to be a very viable option for the community.⿝

The county had accepted A&Bâ¿¿s EIS for the project on April 23.

On June 10, the stateâ¿¿s Commission on Water Resource Management issued a ruling on Na Wai Eha streamflows that would have A&B return 12.5 million gallons of water a day to the streams in West Maui. This decision is currently under appeal by the two community groups, which want even more water returned.

⿿Because the Water Commission⿿s decision directly affects the proposed Waiale plant, we have agreed to revisit the EIS,⿝ Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares said in a statement released Wednesday.

The battle between community groups and A&Bâ¿¿s subsidiary, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., has revolved around the companyâ¿¿s statements that insufficient water could close the last sugar plantation on Maui. Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. employs approximately 800 workers.

A&B Propertiesâ¿¿ Chun said the next step in this matter will be determined by the county.

Copyright 2010 American City Business Journals

Copyright 2010