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Reduce the Impact of Cesspools on Coastal Waters

Reduce the Impact of Cesspools on Coastal Waters

Phaseout Hawaii's reliance on cesspools through a coordinated effort of policy and public awareness.

Hawaii’s 88,000 cesspools are one of the biggest threats to water quality across the state, discharging 53 mgd sewage into coastal waters. In recent years, Surfrider has played a key role in successfully urging the state government to finally move away from relying on these antiquated and ineffective systems for managing household wastewater. A state-level Cesspool Task Force has been established to develop a workable plan for getting all Hawaii residents off of cesspools by 2050 that includes identifying priority areas for conversion and recommendations for new treatment options. While this work is ongoing, Surfrider has been supporting new legislation every year to further the state’s progress towards meeting the 2050 goal. Our 3 legislative goals of this campaign include:

  • Establishing a cesspool and septic system registry for the State of Hawaii.
  • Ensuring that financial incentives to encourage cesspool upgrades are available. 
  • Building capacity to support the implementation and funding of Cesspool Task Force recommendations.

In addition, this campaign includes a robust public education component that aims to build awareness about the impact of cesspool pollution. Our goal is to mobilize grassroots advocacy that enables community members to support better cesspool policy and improved wastewater management throughout Hawaii. We will further integrate the results from our three Blue Water Task Force labs into public outreach to illustrate pollution problems at beaches.