Laws & Regulations

In 1978, the State of Hawaii’s Constitutional Convention identified the the State’s “obligation to protect, control and regulate the use of Hawaii’s water resources for the benefit of its people.” Under Article XI, Section 7, of the State Constitution, “The legislature shall provide for a water resources agency which, as provided by law, shall set overall water conservation, quality and use policies; define beneficial and reasonable uses; protect ground and surface water resources, watersheds and natural stream environments; establish criteria for water use priorities while assuring appurtenant rights and existing correlative and riparian uses and establish procedures for regulating all uses of Hawaii’s water resources.”

View of Waikiki and Honolulu. View of Waikiki and Honolulu. Hawaii’s growing population has resulted in greater competition for water resources between municipal, military, agricultural, private, environmental, and traditional water demands.

Thus, the idea for the State of Hawaii’s Commission on Water Resource Management emerged. However, the Commission was not established until 1987 when the Hawaii State Legislature enacted the State Water Code, Chapter 174C of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. Under the Code, Chapters 13-167 to 13-171 of the Hawaii Administrative Rules rules specify and clarify definitions, procedures, requirements, etc., required by, but not specified by law. The Commission establishes and operates under these rules through periodic updating and public participation based on the experience of implementing the Water Code. The Hawaii Well Construction and Pump Installation Standards, in accordance with §174C-86, HRS and §13-168-14, HAR, provide additional guidance for the construction, installation, alteration, and abandonment of wells and pumps statewide.

Diversified agriculture on Oahu. Diversified agriculture on Oahu. Once the site of vast sugarcane fields, the decline of the sugar industry has opened the door to diversified agriculture. Water remains a valuable commodity on the Ewa plains.

State Water Code

The State Water Code, Chapter 174C, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) was enacted into law by the 1987 Hawaii State Legislature for the purpose of protecting Hawaii’s water resources. It provides for the legal basis and establishment of the Commission on Water Resource Management and its authorities and responsibilities. Click on the link below to view the State Water Code in Acrobat Reader.

Accordingly, two years from the effective date of the State Water Code, conflicting chapters within the Hawaii Revised Statutes were repealed. These chapters are referenced below.

Chapter
Subject
Chapter 176, HRS
REPEALED – Water Resources
Chapter 176D, HRS
REPEALED – Protection of Instream Uses of Water
Chapter 177, HRS
REPEALED – Ground Water Use
Chapter 178, HRS
REPEALED – Well, Generally

Hawaii Administrative Rules

Administrative rules specify and clarify definitions, procedures, requirements, etc., required by, but not specified, in the law (174C). The Commission establishes and operates under these rules through periodic updating and public participation based on the experience of implementing the Water Code.In July 1987, the Hawaii State Legislature passed the State Water Code, Chapter 174C Hawaii Revised Statutes, for the purpose of protecting Hawaii’s water resources. In conjunction, with the adoption of the State Water Code, the Commission also needed to enact new administrative rules within a two-year time period. Listed below are the repealed and current Hawaii Administrative Rules.

Chapter
Subject
Effective
13-166
REPEALED – Control of Ground Water Use in the State of Hawaii
05/27/1988
13-167
REPEALED – Protection of Instream Uses of Water, Windward Oahu
05/27/1988
Rules of Practice and Procedure for the Commission on Water Resource Management
05/27/1988
13-168
Water Use, Wells, and Stream Diversion Works
05/27/1988
Amendment (Section 13-168-14): Well Construction and Pump Installation Standards
03/21/1997
13-169 Protection of Instream Uses of Water 05/27/1988
Amendment (Section 13-169-44 to 49): Interim Instream Flow Standards for East Maui, Kauai, Hawaii, Molokai, West Maui, and Leeward Oahu 10/08/1988
Amendment (Section 13-169-49.1): Interim Instream Flow Standards for Windward Oahu 05/04/1992
13-170 Hawaii Water Plan 05/27/1988
13-171 Designation and Regulation of Water Management Areas 05/27/1988
Amendment (Section 13-171-60 to 62): Reservations of Water, Dept. of Hawaiian Home Lands reservations for Honolulu and Leeward Oahu, Dept. of Hawaiian Home Lands reservation for Windward Oahu 02/18/1994
Amendment (Section 13-171-63): Dept. of Hawaiian Home Lands reservation for Kualapuu, Molokai 06/10/1995