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Reppun v. Board of Water Supply

Supreme Court of Hawaii
65 Haw. 531, 656 P.2d 57, cert. denied, 471 U.S. 1014, 105 S.Ct. 2016, 85 L Ed.2d 298 (1985)


Facts

Reppun and other taro farmers in Hawaii (Reppun) (plaintiffs) relied upon water from the Waihee stream to irrigate their crops. The Board of Water Supply (BWS) (defendant) reduced the flow of water from the Waihee stream reaching Reppun’s land through a series of dikes and wells. The reduced flow led to an infestation of pythium, a destructive fungus, damaging the taro crops. Reppun sued, seeking to enjoin the BWS from diverting water from the Waihee stream. Reppun argued that he had riparian rights to the natural flow of the Waihee stream and appurtenant rights for all lands that were being used to grow taro at the time of the Great Mahele (King Kamehameha III’s redistribution of land in 1848). The BWS argued that it had purchased the rights claimed by Reppun. The trial court ruled for Reppun, holding that riparian water rights could not be severed from their appurtenant land and that any attempt to do so was a nullity. BWS appealed to the Supreme Court of Hawaii.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Richardson, C.J.)

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