Technical Report No. 55
Eamon T. Morahan, and Hiroshi Yamauchi
The governmental structure of Hawaii through which its water-related agencies operate is a relatively simple one as compared to that of most other mainland states. A highly centralized state government dominates over one layer of four county-level governments (in the case of Honolulu, the City & County of Honolulu). Each of these four local governments has its own charter which is similar in most respects to the others, but, nevertheless, uniquely applicable to itself. County boundaries are conveniently contiguous with the natural geographic boundaries of each island except for the tri-islands county of Maui (Maui, Molokai, and Lanai). Besides the four island counties, the only other local-level governmental entity is the Soil and Water Conservation District. There are some 15 of these SWCD’s covering about 96 percent of the land area in the state. They, however, do not possess any taxing or regulatory powers and for administrative purposes they are closely associated with the State Department of Land and Natural Resources. While it is generally conceded that Hawaii has a relatively simple governmental structure, there is nevertheless a considerable number of public water-related agencies that has evolved over time. Some 50 odd agencies have been conveniently categorized under federal, state, and local agencies. While not all the higher level agencies in the federal category such as, the Water Resources Council, the Council of Environmental Quality, the National Water Commission, and the Office of Management and Budget, are physically represented in Hawaii, they still have important bearings on the water policies and programs of the state and so have been usefully considered along with those situated in the islands. Despite this broadened scope, the institutional coverage in this report is still somewhat limited by the fact that, except for the three quasi-public companies which come under the purview of the State Public Utilities Commission, only public agencies were surveyed. Also, since the agencies are for the most part entities of the executive branch of the government, the roles of the legislative and judicial branches are likewise not adequately reflected. These public water-related agencies may then be regarded as only a portion of a complex institutional superstructure that functions in the water economy of Hawaii. Conceptually, this institutional superstructure is just as much a part of the total water resource system in Hawaii as the physical sub-system itself. From a social viewpoint, the physical sub-system exists for the ultimate benefit of mankind who has, through experience in conflicts, systematically developed the necessary institutions to facilitate orderly development and use of his naturally endowed water resources. in this sense, both the physical and institutional subsystems make up the total integrated water resources system of the state.