The Hawaii Dam Safety Act

Proudly Serving Honolulu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island

We successfully represented property owners damaged by the Ka Loko Dam breach that occurred on Kauai on March 14, 2006.  See our previous blogs dated  November 3, 2009 and September 26, 2007.  The Ka Loko Dam breach killed seven people.  The Dam Safety Act (HRS § 179D-1, et. al.) was revised in 2007 as a result of the Ka Loko Dam breach.  According to an article by KHON2, the State of Hawaii is planning to hold statewide hearings about proposed new dam regulation.  Ideally, these proposals will provide more effective regulations and oversight for existing dams and for the construction of new dams in Hawaii.  Please find below a link to this KHON2 article for more details. 

 http://www.khon2.com/content/news/developingstories/story/State-holding-hearings-on-new-dam-reservoir-rules/n9GsIVQhZkmlGMEJMz1Tug.cspx?rss=2433

These hearings are long overdo. 

The Dam Safety Act provides that “the Legislature finds and declares that the inspection and regulation of all dams or reservoirs are properly a matter of regulation under the police powers of the State.”  HRS § 179D-2 (as amended in 2007).

The Legislative History of the Dam Safety Act succinctly states as follows:

This Bill provides for the inspection and regulation of construction, operation and removal of certain dams in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the State by reducing the risk of failure of such dams.

S.C. Rep. 325 Haw. House. Stand. Comm. Rpt. 365, Reg. Sess. (1987).

To fulfill this purpose, the Hawaii Legislature created certain procedures and duties to the board to affirmatively regulate dams in this State which are contained in HRS § 179D-6 (amended in 2007). 

Hopefully, the hearing will produce dam regulations and oversight far superior than those that existed prior to March 14, 2006 and those amended in 2007.