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Underground Injection Control

A. Legal Authority

  • Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, Pub. Law 93-523, U.S.C. 300f et seq.
  • 40 CF R Part 144 • Chapter 340E, HRS, Safe Drinking Water
  • Title 11, Chapter 23 HAR, Underground Injection Control


B. Purpose

The purpose of the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program is to protect the quality of the state’s underground sources of drinking water from pollution by subsurface disposal of fluids. The program seeks to control the location, construction and operation of injection wells so that injected fluids do not migrate and pollute the underground drinking water sources.

C. Applicability to Aquaculture

In certain situations, land-based aquaculture operations may find it advantageous to discharge wastewater into underground injection wells rather than into surface waters. An injection well is defined by HAR as a well into which subsurface disposal of fluid, or fluids, occurs or is intended to occur, by means of injection. A well is defined as a bored, drilled or driven shaft, or a dug hole, whose depth is greater than its widest surface dimension.

No injection well can be constructed and operated in the state without obtaining a permit from the Department of Health (DOH), Safe Drinking Water Branch (SDWB). For purposes of UIC the state has classified aquifers and underground sources of drinking water as either exempt, i.e., generally not serving as a source of drinking water, or nonexempt, i.e., all other aquifers. On each island, the DOH has established a UIC Line. Lands mauka (towards the mountains) of the line are non-exempt. Lands makai (towards the sea) are exempt. The standards for issuing permits depend upon whether the proposed injection well is drilled into an exempt or non-exempt aquifer. Note, maps of the UIC lines for each island can be found on the SDWB web site below.

In certain circumstances, injection wells from aquaculture may be classified as a subclass B well permitted mauka of the UIC line, if the water in the receiving formation has either: 1) an equal or greater chloride concentration as that of the injected fluid; or 2) a total dissolved solids concentration in excess of five thousand mg/L (§11-23-06, HAR). If this test is not met, the well can only be sited makai of the line.

All new wells must be sited more than one-quarter mile from any part of a drinking water source. Subclass B wells sited mauka of the UIC line must, in addition, submit data concerning the water quality of the aquifer at the location. All wells must be constructed consistent with good engineering practices as recommended by the Honolulu Board of Water Supply’s “Water System Standards” (§11-23-09, HAR).

A permit will be issued, for up to five years, for an injection well into exempted aquifers if the well: 1) will not endanger the quality of underground drinking water sources; 2) is designed and constructed to operate without causing a violation of applicable rules and laws; and 3) is designed and built in compliance with the standards set forth in the rules. For wells injecting into a non-exempt aquifer, the issuance must also be based on an evaluation of the contamination potential of the local water by the injection fluids and the water development potential of the aquifer for public and private consumption (§11-23-16, HAR).

D. Administering Agency

Safe Drinking Water Branch
Environmental Management Division
Department of Health
State of Hawaiʻi
919 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 308
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi 96814-4920
Phone: 808-586-4258
From Hawaiʻi (toll free): 974-4000, ext. 64258
From Kauai (toll free): 274-3141, ext. 64258
From Maui (toll free): 984-2400, ext. 64258
From Molokai and Lanai (toll free): 468-4644, ext. 64258
Fax: 808-586-4351
Web site:

E. Information Requirements

An application must be submitted on the DOH’s application form and if for a new well, the document must be signed by a geologist or professional engineer. The application must include the following data, as well as other items set forth in the regulations (§11-23- 13, HAR):

  • Facility name, location and owner;
  • Maps, including an island and tax map key number and map;
  • Site plan for the facility showing injection wells;
  • USGS topographic map showing proposed well, and all other wells, within one quarter mile;
  • Nature and source of injected fluid;
  • Proposed design capacity and operating volume;
  • Description of injection well system, including the connection to the waste water source; and
  • Description of the waste stream process and chemical composition of the injectant.

Once approval is given to dig the well, the applicant must conduct an injection test and provide results to the DOH.

F. Public Participation

Public notice of applications for injection wells must be circulated, with a 30 day period provided for public comment. If a public hearing is requested by the applicant or an interested party, DOH shall hold a public hearing if the Director determines that there is significant public interest.

G. Process Time

The rules do not set forth a specific time frame for permit issuance. However, because of the public notice requirement, the minimum time is thirty days.

H. Sequence of Filing

Upon completion of the application with all required data, the DOH may approve the start of construction. However, approval of the start of construction does not guarantee approval to operate.

I. Cost

The filing fee for a permit application is $100. In addition, the applicant must pay all fees assessed for publishing the public notice and for the notice of the public hearing, if required.

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Department of Agriculture – Aquaculture and Livestock Services
99-941 Halawa Valley Street
Aiea, Hawaiʻi 96701-5602
Phone: 808-483-7130
Fax: 808-483-7110
Web site:


Pacific Region Aquaculture and Coastal Resource Hub
2525 Correa Road, HIG 238
Honolulu, HI 96822
Phone: (808) 956-7031

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