The Commission on Water Resource Management (Commission) administers the State Water Code, which was created by the 1987 Hawaii State Legislature. The Commission’s general mission is to protect and enhance the water resources of the State of Hawaii through wise and responsible management.
There are a total of seven members on the Commission. Two are ex-officio (by virtue of office) members and five are appointed by the Governor from lists submitted by a nominating committee, subject to confirmation by the Senate.
The Commission on Water Resource Management is attached to the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources. Under the general direction of the Deputy Director for Water Resource Management, the staff provides administrative and technical support services to the Commission. The staff’s primary responsibilities are to implement and administer the provisions of the State Water Code by planning, surveying, regulating, monitoring, and conserving the State’s water resources within established plans that have been adopted by the Commission.
The Commission’s staff is comprised of the Surveying, Planning, Ground-Water Regulation, and Stream Protection and Management Branches. Overall responsibilities include the following:
- Prepare for adoption by the Commission, all necessary administrative rules and procedures to implement the provisions of the State Water Code.
- Administer the Hawaii Water Plan and its constituent parts, except the Water Quality Plan which will be administered by the Department of Health.
- Regulate the use of water resources in water management areas, and coordinate activities necessary to insure the protection of native Hawaiian water rights.
- Administer the instream use protection program by recommending appropriate interim and final instream flow standards.
- Receive and process water-related citizen complaints.
- Recommends dispute resolution by mediation or other procedures.
- Retain hearings officers and consultants for the conduct of special administrative proceedings by the Commission.
- Receive and process permit applications for stream channel alterations, well drilling, pump installations, and diversion works construction.
- Conduct hydrologic investigations and recommend appropriate action regarding designation of water management areas.
The Commission logo was designed to depict the precious water resources of our Islands. Surface waters flow over land from mauka to makai, while ground waters percolate through the ground and are stored in underground aquifers. Ground water, the primary source of Hawaii’s fresh drinking water, forms a lens sitting atop a pool of salt water, with a transition (brackish) zone between. This is depicted in the lower half of the logo. Streams provide water for domestic use, habitat for Hawaii’s native stream organisms, taro cultivation, agriculture, and more. This is depicted in the upper half of the logo. Together, the waters of Hawaii are the lifeline of our Islands.
The motto “Ke Kahuwai Pono” exemplifies the Commission on Water Resource Management and it’s responsibility in protecting the water resources of Hawaii, recognizing that the waters of the State are held in trust for the benefit of the citizens of the State. In the Hawaiian language, wai is “water”, kahu means “guardian, caretaker”, and pono stands for “proper, righteous.” Together, these words translate to “the trustee who oversees the rightful sharing of water.” It is with this conviction that the Commissioners, Deputy Director, and staff strive to ensure the availability of freshwater for generations to come.