Regulations & Permits

The Commission on Water Resource Management’s Stream Protection and Management (SPAM) Branch is responsible for protecting stream channels from alteration whenever practicable and for managing the sharing of surface water resources. The SPAM Branch accomplishes these objectives through a regulatory permitting system.

The sections below describe the different regulations for stream channels, permits required for working in and around the stream channel, and other processes associated with surface water. Should you have any questions, please contact the SPAM Branch at (808) 587-0234 or via email at dlnr.cwrm@hawaii.gov.

Stream Channel Alteration Permit (SCAP)

Manoa Stream, Oahu, Hawaii.A Stream Channel Alteration Permit (SCAP) is required for any temporary or permanent activity within the stream bed or banks that may: 1) Obstruct, diminish, destroy, modify, or relocate a stream channel; 2) Change the direction of the flow of water in a stream channel; or 3) Remove any material or structure from a stream channel.

The State Water Code defines a stream as “any river, creek, slough, or natural water course that usually flows in a defined bed or channel.” Routine streambed and drainageway maintenance activities and the repair of existing facilities are exempt from the SCAP requirements.

Stream Diversion Works Permit (SDWP)

Punaluu Stream, Oahu, Hawaii.A Stream Diversion Works Permit (SDWP) is required for the removal of water from a stream into a channel, ditch, tunnel, pipeline, or other conduit for offstream purposes including, but not limited to, domestic, agricultural, and industrial uses. Construction of a new stream diversion structure or alteration of an existing structure require an SDWP. Routine maintenance activities are exempt from SDWP requirements.

Petition to Amend Instream Flow Standard (PAIFS)

Honopou Stream, Maui, Hawaii.Early efforts to update the Commission’s Water Resource Protection Plan (WRPP) highlighted the need for surface water hydrologic units to delineate and codify Hawaii’s surface water resources. Surface water hydrologic units served as an important first-step towards improving the organization and management of surface water information that the Commission collects and maintains, including diversions, stream channel alterations, and water use.

Request for Determination (RFD)

Keanuiomano Stream, Big Island, Hawaii.If uncertain whether or not a project will require a SCAP or SDWP, it is best to consult the Commission staff and submit a Request for Determination (RFD). The Commission staff requests that an RFD Form be completed to ensure that staff has adequate information to make a timely and accurate determination on the impacts of the potential project.

Complaint / Dispute Resolution (CDR)

Waikomo Stream, Kauai, Hawaii.Early efforts to update the Commission’s Water Resource Protection Plan (WRPP) highlighted the need for surface water hydrologic units to delineate and codify Hawaii’s surface water resources. Surface water hydrologic units served as an important first-step towards improving the organization and management of surface water information that the Commission collects and maintains, including diversions, stream channel alterations, and water use.

Surface Water Use Permits (SWUP)

Waihee River, Maui, Hawaii.Designated surface water management areas are subject to special rules to protect the water resources within given hydrologic units. The Commission has administrative control over the withdrawals and diversions of surface water within management areas.

Upon designation of a surface water management area, all surface water users therein are required to obtain a Surface Water Use Permit (SWUP) from the Commission. The Commission will only accept Applications for SWUP for Proposed New Use in a Designated Surface Water Management Area.