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Water Use Permit

A. Legal Authority

  • Chapter 174C, HRS, State Water Code
  • Title 13, Subtitle 7, Chapter 171, HAR, Designation and Regulation of Water Management Areas, as amended


B. Purpose

The purpose of the Water Use Permit requirement is to establish administrative control over the withdrawal and diversion of ground and surface water in designated Water Management Areas. Water Management Areas are hydrologic areas where water resources are being threatened by existing or proposed withdrawals or diversions of water, water quality problems, or serious disputes, which have been so designated by the Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM).

C. Applicability to Aquaculture

Land-based aquaculture may require sourcing water from within a Water Management Area. A Water Use Permit is only required in geographic areas which have been designated by the CWRM, pursuant to §174C-41, HRS, as Water Management Areas. The Commission has designated four Ground Water Management Areas on Oahu: Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, Wailua, and Windward Oahu; and the entire island of Molokai. One Surface Water Management Area has been designated in Central Maui.

In those areas designated as Water Management Areas, no withdrawal, diversion, impoundment or consumptive use of water may occur without the issuance of a Water Use Permit. Domestic consumption of water by individual users and catchment systems are exempt from this requirement.

To obtain a Water Use Permit an applicant must establish that the proposed use of water:

  • Can be accommodated by the available water source;
  • Is a reasonable and beneficial use as defined in §13-172-2, HAR;
  • Will not interfere with any existing legal use of water;
  • Is consistent with the public interest;
  • Is consistent with state and county general plans and land use designations; and
  • Is consistent with county land use plans and policies.

D. Administering Agency

The CWRM is responsible for administering and granting the Water Use Permit:

Commission on Water Resource Management
Department of Land and Natural Resources
State of Hawaiʻi
1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 227
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi 96813
Phone: (808) 587-0214
Fax: 808 587-0219
Web site:

E. Information Requirements

In addition to a completed application form, which can be found on the above web site, the following information will be required:

  • Source of the water supply;
  • Quantity and quality of water requested;
  • Use of water and any limitations thereon;
  • Location of the use of water;
  • Location of the well or point of diversion; and
  • Any other relevant information necessary to adequately understand the proposal.

It is also advisable that an applicant submit a written document with their application that specifically addresses the issues required by §13-171-13, HAR, and listed in the Applicability to Aquaculture section above.

F. Public Participation

Upon receipt of the application, notice is published and a copy of the notice is transmitted to the Mayor and the Board of Water Supply of the affected county and any person requesting formal notice. Written objections to the proposal must be submitted within 10 working days of the last public notice. The CWRM may then request additional information from the applicant or objectors. A public hearing may also be scheduled, at the discretion of the Commission.

G. Process Time

By rule the Commission is required to approve or disapprove a completed application with all the necessary information within 90 days of the receipt. If the application requires a public hearing, a decision must be rendered within 180 days.

H. Sequence of Filing

An application for a Water Use Permit, if required, should be submitted early in the project development process to secure an allocation of the necessary water for the project. A Water Use Permit is also required prior to obtaining a Well Construction permit and a Designated Water Management Area or a CDUA approval for Conservation District lands in a designated Water Management Area.

I. Cost

A filing fee of $25 is required to accompany each permit application. The cost of preparing the application and the necessary supplemental information varies with the scope of the project and proposed water use.

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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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