Monday, January 6, 2014

In re Water Use Permit Applications case brief

In re Water Use Permit Applications case brief summary
9 P.3d 409 (2000)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellants sought review of the decision and order of appellee Commission on Water Resource Management (Hawai'i), following a contested hearing on water use permit applications.

CASE FACTS
The appeal arose from an extended dispute over the water distributed by a major irrigation infrastructure on the island of Oahu, Hawai'i, supplying the island's leeward side with water diverted from its windward side. In a contested hearing, appellee Commission on Water Resource Management considered water use permit applications for various leeward offstream purposes and water reservation petitions for both instream and offstream uses. Appellants, the City of Honolulu, Hawai'i and various interested parties, sought review of appellee's decision.

DISCUSSION

  • The court affirmed in part and vacated in part. 
  • The court held that the governor's public remarks regarding the matter did not prove that appellee could not have proceeded in a manner of independent judgment. 
  • The State Water Code, Haw. Rev. Stat. ch. 174C, did not supplant the public trust doctrine. 
  • Further, appellee did not abuse its discretion in pursuing the case-by-case evolution of water use policy through prior adjudicative proceedings. 
  • However, appellee erred by failing to consider the impact of fluctuating diversion on instream base flows and the practicability of adopting specific measures to mitigate this impact.
CONCLUSION
Judgment was affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. In considering the permit applications, appellee Commission on Water Resource Management did not err in accommodating existing agricultural uses while restoring instream flows. On remand, appellee needed to determine the validity of allocations in relation to instream requirements and availability of reclaimed water.


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