The Hanalei Initiative is committed to improving the water quality in our rivers, streams, and bay. We understand the complex set of challenges and are working on solutions.  

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Our existing wastewater standards in Hanalei are not what they should be, contributing mass amounts of pollutants into our beautiful rivers, streams, and bay. Hanalei Bay is arguably one of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world, yet due to untreated wastewater, during heavy rains it is filled with bacterial, pharmaceutical and nutrient pollutants. These are the waterways where we fish, surf, swim, walk, boat, and play. Clearly, our water quality is imperative to the well-being of our community.

We estimate around 75 homes to still be operating on the outdated cesspool system, the main contributing factor to the elevated bacterial counts. In cesspools, wastewater is untreated, dispersing pathogens, bacteria and viruses, as well as damaging nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous that are damaging Hawaii’s fragile ecosystem.

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Through potential Department of Health grant funding and private capital, the Hanalei Initiative is exploring financing options for converting cesspools to aerobic system conversions, that actually treat water on site. With organization and economy of scale we can convert all remaining cesspools in Hanalei to exceed current wastewater standards.

While improving the water quality in Hanalei is a lofty goal that is capital intensive, we firmly believe that this is a mission we can complete. We have reviewed the inventory of current wastewater systems, identified the priority homes, and are beginning to engage with property owners.

We are a small town with a big problem. But with the right funding combined with the years of research and direction from the resources we have at hand (Hanalei Watershed Plan), we can create a significant positive change in our environment and ultimately, secure our irreplaceable natural resources for many generations to come.