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Hawaii's Stored Water: Where we have been and where do we go next?

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As Hawaii looks at the issue of increasing the supply of freshwater, one of the questions that arises is what is the role of stored water in addressing that issue. Hawaii’s water systems have been called “flashy,” the rains come and drop lots of water in a short period; the water then rushes down streambeds and into the ocean; very little is retained on the land.

The Freshwater Initiative of the Hawaii Community Foundation contracted with the Collaborative Leaders Network to reach out to knowledgeable individuals who represent the various points-of-view from regulators to dam owners to farmers to environmentalists, to Native Hawaiian elders, and to the attorneys who have represented the Native Hawaiian Interest.

As will be detailed in the following pages, from the interviews and subsequent discussions, emerged the key issues of why we store water, the particular opportunity offered by energy, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) regulation, the Public Utilities Commission and agricultural water, other regulatory issues, key systems to support, the Native Hawaiian view of stored water, and how can we support stored water. Specific recommendations follow in each section.

At the end, there is a set of recommended steps that could be taken to improve the situation for the dams and reservoirs.

As part of this report, we also needed to update the review of other states laws in order to see if there is anything that Hawaii needs to look at. The conclusion is no, that there are few changes and none that are important for us.

View the report

CLN-Stored-Water-Report_Final

 

Report Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Where Are We and Why?
  • Why Do We Store Water?
  • Energy As A Major Use
  • DLNR Regulation
  • The Public Utilities Commission and Agricultural Water
  • Regulatory Issues
  • Key Storage Systems
  • The Native Hawaiian View of Stored Water
  • How Do We Best Support Dams and Reservoirs?
  • Key Water and Storage Observations to Consider
  • What Next: Key Steps for the Future of Hawaii’s Dams and Reservoirs

Appendices:

  • Statutory and Regulatory Changes to Dam Safety Programs Since 2006: An Overview
  • Survey of Dam Safety Programs in Other States — 2014 Update
  • List of Interviewees

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