Winter 1983 Home   Newsletters

Spring 1983

Summer 1983

Action! (Marion Saunders)
League Testifies at Legislative Hearings
Voters Service (Marian Wilkins)
Juvenile Justice (Catherine Filson)
Around the State
Water (Linda Lai Hipp)
Legislation on Water (Linda Lai Hipp & Anna Hoover)
Energy (Joan Davenport)
Reapportionment Update (Anne Lee)
State Convention
LWV of Hawaii Proposed Budget 1983-84

Legislation on Water

Much Federal and State legislation has been enacted in the last twenty years to regulate the use of and set quality standards for Hawaiian waters. Some major ones are:

1961 -

Federal Groundwater Use Act State Water & Land Development HRS 174
State Ground Water Use HRS 177

1965 -

Federal Water Resources Planning Act

1972 -

Federal Water Pollution Control Act State Environmental Quality HRS 341, 342, 344

1974 -

Federal Safe Drinking Water Act

1977 -

Federal Clean Water Act

As you can see, more emphasis has been given to quality as only in the last decade was there a realization that our water resources are not unlimited. For instance, the Groundwater Use Act of 1961 provided for safeguarding those areas where groundwater resources are in danger, yet not until 1978 were rules developed to implement this act. The first area designated by the lead agency, The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), in 1980 was the Pearl Harbor basin. Other areas have since been designated and have come under the control of DLNR. Groundwater use in any area not designated is not currently regulated. Surface water use is not regulated by statute. Decisions about surface water rights historically have been decided by the courts. Currently a major case is pending in court which may decide if the State owns all surface water.

In 1979 a Constitutional amendment was adopted by the voters which mandated that the State protect, control and regulate the use of Hawaii's water resources for the benefit of its people. Each legislature since that time has proposed bills to fulfill this mandate but has passed - none. The 1981 Legislature set up a Water Commission to review the numerous issues relating to Hawaii's water resources in order to accomplish the constitutional mandate. The Commission meets once a month and is administered through the Legislative Reference Bureau. it is composed of thirteen members. Five of the commissioners are from the public, four are the heads of the counties' boards of water supply and the remainder are appropriate state department heads. The Commission is to report to the 1984 Legislature.

This year a bill (SB952) has been introduced in the Legislature that proposes the DLNR be given new powers to regulate and protect every Hawaii water resource (surface and ground, whether endangered or not) "for its best utilization, conservation and protection in order to prevent the threat of exhaustion, depletion, waste, pollution or deterioration ...". This would, in effect, give the DLNR full control over water resources in the state until the Legislature can act on recommendations of the Water Commission which will not be until 1984 at the earliest.

Anna Hoover
Linda Lai Hipp

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