Aloha, everyone. William Balfour’s response to questions by the Senate Water and Land Committee today at his confirmation hearing was disappointing to put it mildly. It is very hard for me to believe the Governor nominated Mr. Balfour to serve yet another term on the Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM). Mr. Balfour did not know about the hierarchy of water uses or constitutionally protected rights and uses under the State Water Code, nor was he concerned that he did not know about this most important tenet of the code.
Five major decisions by CWRM have been reversed by the courts in the last decade or so. Most if not all of them involved stream diversions, Native Hawaiian water rights, and superior uses. As a past water commissioner, Mr. Balfour voted on two important decisions that were reversed by the Hawai‘i Supreme Court in the Na Wai ‘Eha and East Maui stream cases.
The Committee is meeting again this Friday, April 17, 2015 at 1:15 pm in Room 225 to give Mr. Balfour another opportunity to address the code’s hierarchy of water uses and rights under the code. Even if he does his homework in the next two days, his past record as a water commissioner speaks louder than any recitation of the State Water Code.
Please call and email members of the Senate Committee on Water and Land before Friday noon. Respectfully ask them to oppose GM 820 and the nomination of William Balfour, Jr. to serve on the Commission on Water Resource Management. Be sure to contact your own state senator too (see contact information for the committee and all senators below). Please share with others and broadcast far and wide. Mahalo!
We must not give up opposing this ill-advised nomination.
Our state senators are the only ones with the power to decide whether Mr. Balfour serves on the CWRM for another 4 years or if the people deserve someone who is committed to upholding the State Water Code and the state constitution, and righting the wrongs of the past.
Mr. Balfour already had his turn on CWRM. If he is confirmed for another 4 years, he will be voting on matters as they come back to CWRM as ordered by the courts. It is inappropriate for him to serve on CWRM again.
This is a new time, and the paradigm is shifting towards a more just and sustainable water management regime in the islands.
Mr. Balfour represents the old way of exploiting water at the expense of native stream ecosystems, estuaries, and fisheries, and on the backs of Native Hawaiian practitioners and kalo farmers.
The old way perpetuates illegal stream diversions that were so cruel and complete, they are beyond belief, and which continue to this day. The old way is not the way forward.
Mr. Balfour is also a climate change denier, and will hinder efforts by CWRM to mitigate impacts to our water resources.
Senate Committee on Water and Land Members:
Chair Laura Thielen
District 25 Kailua, Lanikai, Enchanted Lake, Keolu Hills, Maunawili, Waimanalo, Hawai‘i Kai, Portlock
Vice Chair Brickwood Galuteria
District 12 Waikiki, Ala Moana, Kaka‘ako, McCully, Mo‘ili‘ili
Les Ihara, Jr.
District 10 Kaimuki, Kapahulu, Palolo, Maunalani Heights, St. Louis Heights, Mo‘ili‘ili, Ala Wai
District 23 Kane‘ohe , Ka‘a‘awa, Hau‘ula, La‘ie, Kahuku, Waialua, Hale‘iwa, Wahiawa, Schofield Barracks, Kunia
District 2 Puna, Ka‘u
District 21 Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Ko ‘Olina, Nanakuli, Ma‘ili, Wai‘anae, Makaha, Makua
District 9 Hawai‘i Kai, Kuli‘ou‘ou, Niu, ‘Aina Haina, Wai‘alae-Kahala, Diamond Head