Federal Laws and Regulations
Congress passed the federal Water Pollution Control Act which, with
subsequent amendments, is commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act
(CWA), in 1972 (P.L. 92-500). The preamble to the CWA states that the
goal of the Act is to ensure that the nation’s waters are
“fishable and swimmable.” The 1987 Federal Water Quality
Act Amendments (P.L. 100-4) placed new emphasis on nonpoint source
pollution management and contained specific requirements and
responsibilities for state nonpoint source pollution programs,
including submittal of a Nonpoint Source Assessment Report and a
Management Plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for
The Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990 required
Hawaii, as one of the states with a federally-approved coastal zone
management (CZM) program, to develop and implement a coastal nonpoint
pollution control program, to be approved by the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration and the EPA. State programs must be
developed jointly by the coastal zone management agency (Department of
Business, Economic Development and Tourism) and the water quality
agency (Department of Health, DOH).
The Hawaii water pollution control program began in the late
1960’s in the Sanitary Engineering Branch of the Department of
Health. This Branch included the water pollution control program,
wastewater treatment facility construction grants program, and drinking
water and swimming pool approval programs, and was staffed by four
engineers and five environmental health specialists. In 1973, the
Hawaii State Legislature formally established the water pollution
control program through Act 100, which was codified as Chapter 342,
Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), “Environmental Quality. Then, in
November of 1974, EPA delegated the administration of the National
Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit program in Hawaii
to DOH. The NPDES program is the national program for controlling point
source discharges of pollutants to waters of the State through uniform
In 1978, the Environmental Protection and Health Services Division
(EHSD) of the DOH separated the media programs into functional
branches; water pollution control program responsibilities were divided
between the Pollution Technical Review and Pollution Investigation and
Enforcement Branches. In 1981, the Pollution Technical Review Branch of
the DOH was subdivided into the Environmental Permits Branch and the
Construction Grants Branch. The latter program became responsible for
the construction grants program and the review and approval of
wastewater treatment works for domestic and animal waste systems. In
another reorganization in 1989, the environmental management programs
were grouped into the Environmental Management Division, and the
functional branches reorganized into media-specific branches, including
the newly-named Clean Water Branch. Also in 1989, Act 212 separated
Chapter 342, HRS, into media-specific statutes, thus establishing
Chapter 342D, “Water Pollution.”
In 1974, passage of Act 249 represented Hawaii’s initial
attempt to address nonpoint source pollution problems by instructing
each of the counties to develop an ordinance requiring grading permits
for erosion control in urban areas. In response to Clean Water Act
requirements, each of Hawaii’s counties, with assistance from the
DOH, developed CWA Section 208 Water Quality Management Plans (mid and
late 1970’s). The plans were initially approved by the EPA in
1979 and 1980, and updated in 1993 to include descriptions of the
Federal, State, and County roles in managing water pollution.
In 1990, Act 298 and other acts established authority for the Hawaii
Administrative Rules (HAR), Chapter 11-55 (formerly
Chapter 37), “Water Pollution Control,” and HAR Chapter 11-54 (formerly
Chapter 37-A), “Water Quality Standards.” In November of
1990, Hawaii’s Nonpoint Source Water Pollution Management Plan
and Hawaii’s Assessment of Nonpoint Source Pollution Water
Quality Problems were completed. Then in 1993, Act 345 established the
authority for a Nonpoint Source Pollution Program in the Department of
Health through HRS, Chapter 342E, Non Point Source Management and
Control. Currently (1998), Hawaii is seeking to obtain approval of its
Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program: Management Plan which was
prepared by the Hawaii Coastal Zone Management Program in collaboration
with the DOH.
The Clean Water Branch is structured to implement and maintain the
Statewide Clean Water Program for recreational and ecosystem protection
through services including engineering analysis and permitting, water
quality monitoring and investigation, water quality violation
enforcement, and polluted runoff (i.e. nonpoint source pollution)
- National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit
program for discharges of wastewater from new, old, or modified point
sources from municipal, industrial and federal facilities;
- NPDES permit program for discharges of storm water from municipal
systems and industrial facilities; and
- federal Small Business Loan Program for the U.S. Environmental
Issues Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certifications for
federal permits for construction in nearshore and inland waters.
Oversees the City and County of Honolulu in administering the
Publicly Owned Treatment Works Pre-Treatment Program.
Identifies sources of water pollution through area surveillance,
routine inspections, and complaint investigations.
Evaluates the impact of water pollutants on public health;
determines compliance with rules via source testing, water sampling,
and special studies; submits data that appear to indicate
non-compliance to the Enforcement Section.
Analyzes water quality and operational data to determine degree of
- compliance with permit conditions via site inspection, source
testing and special studies; and
- corrective measures through administrative or court actions.
Coordinates with the Wastewater Branch in enforcement cases regarding
wastewater treatment plants (i.e. the program which initially finds the
violation takes the lead on enforcement actions).
Polluted Runoff Control Program
Fosters partnerships with other agencies involved in nonpoint source
pollution control. Partner agencies include: the State Departments of
Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT); Agriculture
(DOA); Land & Natural Resources (DLNR); the U.S. Natural Resource
Conservation Service (NRCS); the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), which is the parent organization for the
University of Hawaii Sea Grant Program; and the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA). We also have partnerships with local
organizations such as the Hawaii Association of Conservation Districts
Promotes community-based watershed management through education and
voluntary compliance with environmental management standards.
Provides federal funding for demonstration of best management
practice (BMP) projects from the public and private sectors relating to
non point source control.
Encourages and supports programs for environmental education.
The mission of the Clean Water Branch is to protect the public
health of residents and tourists who recreate in and on Hawaii’s
coastal and inland water resources, and to also protect and restore
inland and coastal waters for marine life and wildlife. The mission is
to be accomplished through statewide coastal water surveillance and
watershed-based environmental management through a combination of
permit issuance, monitoring, enforcement, sponsorship of polluted
runoff control projects, and public education.
Given the diversity, complexity, and scope of the environmental
problems of concern today, it is critical that efforts to protect the
environment are better integrated and more focused on opportunities for
environmental improvement than in the past. Integration means that
risks associated with current environmental problems need to be
assessed and efforts targeted at the most serious problems. The major
new challenges foreseen for the next 5-10 years are in the area of
polluted runoff control.
Watershed Management Initiatives
The role that the Clean Water Branch plays in initiating and/or
encouraging watershed management activities is still in its infancy
(see Objective 6). Each watershed has a different community composition
and different environmental problems. Identifying the common interests
of the stakeholders in the community and rallying them to volunteer
time to a particular long-term cause is a challenge. Major challenges
still exist to accomplish and expand watershed management initiatives
statewide. For example, the Ala Wai Canal Watershed Project supports
and empowers a nonprofit organization as a partner to work with the
community to identify and implement polluted runoof control projects
necessary to achieve common environmental management goals of both
communities and agencies.
New Statewide Monitoring Strategy
The success of the Clean Water Program is measured by monitoring
surface water quality throughout the State. At this time, the statewide
monitoring strategy is being completely revised (see Objective 3).
Major components of the new monitoring program plan will be:
Routine monitoring of public beaches, followed by management action
when bacteria levels are significantly above water quality
Collection of surface water chemistry data to determine if long-term
trends in water quality are present; and
Assessment of the condition of the State’s streams and
These data are used to prepare reports required by EPA: the CWA
Section 303(d) List of Water Quality-Limited Segments, and the CWA
305(b) Report on the State of the State’s Waters. Data are also
summarized and will be placed on the Clean Water Branch web site on a
quarterly basis. These reports are prepared in the spring of
even-numbered years and are made available to the public.
Enforcement & Voluntary Compliance
In recent years the EPA has viewed the Clean Water Branch
enforcement programs as less than satisfactory. Environmental groups
have taken the enforcement of federal clean water laws into their own
hands by filing complaints against the City and County of Honolulu and
BYU-Hawaii in Laie. Securing additional resources will be critical to
the success of the Department’s enforcement program.
As greater emphasis is placed on partnerships and community-based
environmental protection, the Clean Water Branch must balance the need
to enforce environmental laws with the need to maintain a working
relationship with the regulated community (see Objectives 4 &
Community-based environmental protection requires an informed
public. Building community awareness and education programs also
require considerable resources, both in dollars and people (see
Objectives 5 & 6). The challenge will be to maximize the limited
resources available to get the most and best information to the Hawaii
Control point source discharges by issuing appropriate NPDES permits
to maintain designated uses of State receiving waters.
Administer and enforce statewide water pollution laws and rules.
This objective is achieved through permitting of point sources,
compliance monitoring, inspections, investigations of complaints, and
ambient water quality monitoring.
The NPDES permit program remains the centerpiece of the water
pollution control effort for our receiving waters. The challenge for
the permit program is to improve and enhance program capability by
issuing individual permits according to a five-year plan, and by
providing technical assistance and training. Control of storm water
discharges is a high priority for the EPA and the State. During 1990,
the Department worked in partnership with EPA to incorporate storm
water permitting authority and water quality-based standards into NPDES
permits. By October, 1997, the State had to renew the General Permits
for industrial storm water discharges and integrate this program
activity into revisions of the five-year plan.
The latest federal mandate affecting the Clean Water Branch is
contained in Section 402 (p) of the 1987 Amendments to the Clean Water
Act, which requires municipalities with a population over 100,000,
certain industrial facilities, and owners/operators of construction
activities which disturb five acres or more to submit permit
applications for the discharge of storm water. Non-storm water
discharges from construction dewatering, underground storage tank
remediation discharges, cooling water discharges less than 1 million
gallons/day, hydrotesting water from water tanks or piping systems,
effluent discharges from petroleum bulk stations and terminals, and
effluent discharges from well drilling activities are also covered by
General Permits. (See Figure 22.)
Although approximately 500 permits are currently under the
jurisdiction of the Clean Water Branch for monitoring and compliance,
EPA did not provide additional funding for handling the increased
workload imposed by the storm water program. In addition, the EPA will
be issuing new regulations for Phase II of the storm water program to
cover those facilities not covered in Phase I.
Ensure that Section 404 permitted activities will not adversely impact
the designated uses of the State receiving waters.
Administer the CWA Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC), a
requirement under the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Section 404
Permit Program. A WQC is a “statement of reasonable assurance
that the construction activity will comply with the applicable
provisions of the State’s water quality standards.”
Construction activities include dredge-and-fill work in our nearshore
and inland waters.
The key to implementation of the WQC program will be streamlining
the certification process. Serious consideration will be given during
the CWA 404 permit renewals to “conditionally certify” the
nationwide and general permits in order to reduce processing time in
the Department of Health.
Identify impaired water bodies and restore their designated uses.
Enhance the ambient Water Quality Monitoring Program to include a
new monitoring effort directed towards toxic chemical monitoring to
establish baseline data for the purpose of adopting standards to
control waste discharges.
Assess the impact of streams entering recreational beaches through a
joint monitoring program with the City and County of Honolulu.
Information gained on contaminates will be used to address the problem
at the source.
- protocols and resources in cooperation with the University of
Hawaii to monitor pathogens in polluted runoff and waste water. Public
health will be protected through preventing exposure to those
- partnerships with the community through a water quality monitoring
program using volunteers from various neighborhoods in the State. Hire
a volunteer monitoring coordinator and develop a work plan and budget
for a fully implemented program for the nonpoint source program for
Prepare a biennial report on the overall condition of the
state’s recreational waters and submit the report to EPA. This is
not a high priority activity, but is nonetheless required by EPA.
Identify and prioritize, on a biennial basis and with EPA
assistance, a list of Hawaii’s most polluted waters (the CWA
303(d) List of Water Quality-Limited Segments) and submit the list to
EPA for review and approval. From this list the Clean Water Branch will
select one or two water bodies each year and perform a pollutant
analysis (termed a ‘total maximum daily load,’ or TMDL) to
identify management measures needed to improve the quality of the
Develop a new Statewide Monitoring Strategy and watershed monitoring
plan in accordance with EPA guidelines, new technologies, additional
resources, and laboratory capabilities.
Ensure expeditious compliance with State water pollution rules.
Maintain the high level of enforcement awareness required by the
delegation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
(NPDES) program. The Department must obtain additional resources to
increase the number staff devoted to enforcement in order to fully
implement this strategy.
Implement pollution prevention strategies to reduce the incidence of
permit violations. Incorporate these strategies into the permitting and
enforcement functions of the branch.
Control polluted runoff through public/private partnerships.
Foster partnerships with other governmental, business, and nonprofit
agencies involved in nonpoint source pollution control; promote
community-based watershed management through education and voluntary
compliance; provide federal dollars for demonstration projects relating
to non point source control; encourage and support programs for
environmental education; and promote pollution control projects in
watersheds with water bodies that have been designated as impaired.
Successful demonstration projects are promoted to encourage landowners
to apply the same techniques as best management practices.
Work with partners in:
- reducing runoff of contaminants (e.g. oil, asbestos, heavy metals
and solvents) from roads into surface waters;
- reducing nutrient losses from non point sources;
- improving drainage design and management of storm water; and
- reducing pollutants from emergency dewatering activities.
Improve water quality in priority watersheds.
Promote new watershed management initiatives, and look for
opportunities to work with local community-based nonprofit
organizations interested in pursuing watershed management and support
Develop appropriate Water Quality Standards.
Increase the number of chemical and biological databases to develop
scientifically valid criteria that will support enforcement
Establish institutional measures, (e.g. medical and scientific
advisory committees, policies, etc.) that promote and increase DOH
efforts (budgeting and funding research) on improved/innovative
technologies, methods and procedures in assessment of human health
risks associated with water quality.
Fill data gaps on toxics.
Explore additional site-specific numerical/narrative standards as
needed and appropriate.
Control point source discharges through the issuance of appropriate
NPDES permits to maintain the designated uses of State receiving
*Percentage of assessed water bodies that protect public health and
the environment by meeting designated uses for fishing, recreation and
*Percentage of facilities implementing wet weather control
Percentage of evaluated waters free of impairment by point-source
Number of permits issued.
Ensure that CWA Section 404 permitted activities will not
adversely impact the designated uses of the State receiving waters.
Percentage of water bodies which have undergone CWA Section 404
permitted activities that meet designated beneficial uses.
Number of certifications issued, waived, or denied.
Identify impaired water bodies and restore their designated
*Percentage change in selected pollutants found in surface
Number of times proactive monitoring prevented possible human
exposure to unsafe water quality.
Completion of a new Statewide Monitoring Strategy.
Additional resources and training secured and utilized to implement
the new Statewide Monitoring Strategy.
Number of assessed water bodies, and TMDLs in process and
Ensure expeditious compliance with State water pollution
Total number of major and minor NPDES facilities versus number of
major and minor facilities that are in significant noncompliance (SNC)
with their NPDES permit conditions. [SNC: 40 CFR 123.45 Violations of
permit effluent limits that exceed the Appendix A “Criteria for
Noncompliance Reporting in the NPDES Program”.]
Number of violation letters issued to NPDES-permitted facilities and
to facilities without NPDES permits.
Number of civil referrals sent to the Attorney General; number of
civil cases filed; number of civil cases concluded and penalties
assessed and collected.
Number of criminal referrals filed in State Court; number of criminal
referrals concluded and penalties assessed and collected.
Number of NPDES permittees inspected.
Control polluted runoff through public/private partnerships.
Percentage of evaluated waters free of impairment by nonpoint source
Number of innovative/demonstration projects, including volunteer
Number of community or agency based committees formed to address
Improve water quality in priority watersheds.
Number of new watershed management initiatives in the state.
Develop appropriate Water Quality Standards.
*Percentage of assessed rivers and estuaries with healthy aquatic
Adoption of new Water Quality Standards.
Status of the triennial review of Water Quality Standards.
(*These measures have been designated ‘Core Performance
Measures’ by EPA, and will be tracked by the DOH and reported
both locally and nationally.)