For Immediate Release: September 28, 2022
Press Release by:
Kelly Takaya King, Former Councilmember
Maui County Council
Council passes bill to establish a policy to protect and restore wetlands
KĪHEI, Hawaiʻi—Councilmember Kelly Takaya King announced Wednesday the council yesterday passed Bill 91, CD1 (2022) on second and final reading which will restore and protect wetlands.
King said, “Wetlands are environmentally sensitive ecosystems which create habitat for important species and environmental resilience to the effects of climate change. They serve essential functions, including slowing, capturing and filtering the flow of runoff and sediment in storm events.”
Under the new law, wetland areas will be identified and mapped if they contain at least two indicators of hydrology (evidence of groundwater, hydric soils and hydric vegetation). This legislation intends to prohibit the loss of additional wetlands to development and ensure the perpetuation of these areas that help maintain a healthy watershed.
“Wetlands are essential for environmental health, biodiversity, protection of the marine environment and coral reefs, flood mitigation and protection of property and fresh water resources,” said King, chair of the Climate Action, Resilience and Environment Committee. “Wetlands play an important role in Hawaiian culture, and we rely on them for erosion control and protection of endangered species as well as freshwater and ocean water quality.”
South Maui experiences frequent major flooding—causing significant erosion, power outages, transportation delays and other issues—recently as a result of the Kona Low storm that hit the Hawaiian islands last December. Just this month South Maui coastal areas faced similar impacts from flooding after receiving nearly two inches of rainfall in a short period of time.
“In December 2021, we were able to see what happens when you try to wipe out a wetlands system from existence,” said testifier Brandi Corpuz. “We need this wetlands bill to help stop several projects proposed on our wetlands and to protect what little bit of wetland resources we have left in Maui County.”
Broad collaboration on King’s bill incorporated feedback from wetlands experts, the Department of Planning, Department of Public Works, Office of Council Services researchers and Department of the Corporation Counsel. After vetting the bill in the CARE committee, the full council passed it out unanimously in first and second readings.
For more information, please contact the office of Councilmember Kelly Takaya King at (808) 270-7108 or the Office of Council Services at (808) 270-8008.