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In re Water Use Permit Applications

Supreme Court of Hawaii
9 P.3d 409 (Haw. 2000)


In 1916, the Oahu Sugar Company constructed an irrigation ditch to divert freshwater from the Ko’olau mountain range. As a result, the ecosystem of Kane-ohe Bay was damaged. In 1992, the Commission on Water Resource Management (Commission) required permits to use the water from the ditch. In 1993, the sugar company announced that it would cease operations, resulting in a number of entities vying for rights to use the water. These entities also petitioned the commission to amend the flow standards. The commission determined that the groundwater and streams of Kane’ohe Bay and the bay itself were part of the public trust and that resource protection was a “categorical imperative and the precondition to all subsequent considerations.”

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Nakayama, J.)

Dissent (Ramil, J.)

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