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Peter's Principles (Peter Herman)
Missiles or What?
National Security Topic Wingspread Conference
Topic of Discussion is Topics
State Convention Adopts New Boards & Commissions Study
State Board '83-'85
Publications Available


To safeguard Hawaii's water supply for present and future needs, State lawmakers this year introduced numerous legislation relating to Hawaii's water supplies. Most of these bills and resolutions, however were not passed as they were stymied in House and Senate committees.

One Senate Resolution (#107), which urges the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Health Department to relax water quality standards for sugar producers on the Hilo-Hamakua Coast, was adopted by the Legislature. Current EPA regulations require sugar growers to haul as much as 350,000 tons of soil annually to disposal sites, rather than allowing the molasses factories to discharge the soil directly into the ocean. Senate Resolution 107, which sympathizes with the financial difficulties of the sugar industry, calls the cost of complying with the EPA regulation "tremendous" compared to the benefits derived from its enforcement.

Among the bills and resolutions which failed this session were:

SENATE BILL 952, which would have established a master control regulating the use and development of all State water resources. Legislators deferred action on this bill pending recommendations--due in 1985--of the Advisory Study' Commission on Water Resources.

SENATE BILL 295 (Standing Committee Report 660) would have transferred the regulation of the design, construction and operation of future private wastewater treatment works from State to County jurisdiction.

HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 7 (Standing Committee Report 620) recommended adoption of the State Water Resources Development Plan as a State Functional Plan.

HOUSE RESOLUTION 46 (Standing Committee Report 752) requested an examination of the status of the State's Water Quality Program, particularly the implementation of the Federal Clean Water Act. This resolution detailed State plans to request a waiver of Federal requirements to improve sewage treatment, a mandate felt unnecessary since Hawaii utilizes deep ocean outfalls.

Judging from the legislation proposed by the State Legislators, it appears the State is moving, however slowly, toward regulation of its water supplies. The McBryde case, now pending in the Court of Appeals, represents a change from previous attitudes in that surface water was judged to be State property instead of being privately owned. Withdrawal of water from the Pearl Harbor Basin and other areas on Oahu is now fully controlled by the Department of Land and Natural Resources and studies are underway to determine if this is necessary for other reservoirs.

A great deal of debate on water issues is expected over the next few years. Much resistance to these regulations exists from agricultural landowners, and there is much competition between the State and Counties over water control. The Advisory Study Commission on Water Resources will likely offer advice on water issues, but the Legislature will have the final decisions on the regulation of water resources.

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