Honolulu, Hawaii


RE: S.B. No. 223

S.D. 1




Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi

President of the Senate

Thirtieth State Legislature

Regular Session of 2019

State of Hawaii




Your Committee on Agriculture and Environment, to which was referred S.B. No. 223 entitled:




begs leave to report as follows:


The purpose and intent of this measure is to add positions to the Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Resource Management Division, direct funding to the East Kauai Water Users' Cooperative for the East Kauai irrigation system, and add funding to increase state irrigation system capacity statewide.


Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from the Department of Agriculture; Larry Jefts Farms, LLC; Saiva Siddhanta Church; Kalepa Koalition; East Kauai Water Users' Cooperative; Hawaii Farm Bureau; and one individual. Your Committee received comments on this measure from the Department of the Attorney General.


Your Committee finds that the irrigation system in East Kauai has been operated by volunteer farmers for many years. The East Kauai Water Users' Cooperative (Cooperative) has managed the state-owned reservoir and ditch system in the Kapaa/Kalepa area for the past seventeen years under a year-to-year revocable permit from the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). In September 2016, the Cooperative was informed by DLNR that the Cooperative must obtain a long-term water lease within three years, which includes a costly Environmental Impact Statement that exceeds the Cooperative's monetary resources. Once the three-year ultimatum expires in early 2020, DLNR will no longer renew the irrigation system's revocable permit, the Cooperative will have to cease operations, and the irrigation system, including the recently renovated Wailua and Upper Kapahi reservoirs, will revert to DLNR control and possibly face abandonment.


Your Committee recognizes that there is a need for continued irrigation access, which also supports the State's goal of doubling local food production. Thus, your Committee finds that appropriating funds to the Department of Agriculture to add positions, support the East Kauai irrigation system, and increase irrigation system capacity statewide fulfills the need for continued irrigation access and related support.


Pursuant to testimony submitted by the Department of the Attorney General, your Committee has amended this measure by changing the funding lapse date from June 30, 2024, to June 30, 2022, to ensure that issued government obligation bonds lapse in three years in accord with the state constitution.


As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Agriculture and Environment that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 223, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 223, S.D. 1, and be referred to your Committee on Ways and Means.


Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Agriculture and Environment,