The State of Hawai‘i has approximately 580 watersheds as listed in the Hawai‘i Watershed Guidance (2010). The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) defines Watershed Partnerships statewide, which include both public and private land. There are currently ten Watershed Partnerships as shown in the figure at right.
The Ocean Resources Management Plan (ORMP) addresses watersheds from two different viewpoints, the mauka watersheds that provide the water quantity and the watersheds moving makai that affect the ocean water quality. Ensuring the health of the water supply, allowing for water recharge, and preserving good water quantity entails taking care of the watersheds. Water flows from mauka to makai and ends in the ocean, filling the streams, providing species habitat, and improving coastal and nearshore water quality. Good quality and sufficient quantity of water is needed to feed the island’s reef systems.
Benchmark - Where we are now
  • DLNR-DOFAW works with the eleven established Watershed Partnerships made up of large public and private land owners. These partnerships work closely with managers and the five island-based Invasive Species Committees, which are made up of private, public, and nonprofit partners.
  • The Polluted Runoff Control Program (PRCP), also known as the Section 319 Program and administered by the Department of Health (DOH), provides funding to reduce non-point source pollution in priority watersheds. The purpose of the DOH-PRCP is to address water quality problems (impairments) through the development and implementation of watershed plans.
  • Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments (CZARA) Section 6217 requires Hawai‘i to develop a Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Plan (CNPCP). The CNPCP is the responsibility of the State Department of Health (DOH) and Office of Planning (OP) Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program, and it is jointly administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Hawai‘i Watershed Guidance (2010) is a streamlined version of EPA’s Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect our Waters (2008). Hawai‘i is working towards submittal of final draft management measures to EPA and NOAA.
  • There are 840,000 acres of the Priority I and II Watersheds statewide, which contain native forests. Currently only 10% of the priority watershed areas are protected and this level of management has taken 40 years to achieve.
  • DLNR’s The Rain Follows the Forest plan outlines seven watershed protection and restoration actions, which are listed below as targets for the Management Priority.
(*DLNR-DOFAW supports the State of Hawaiʻi's commitment to protecting 30% of our highest priority watershed forests (253,000 acres) by 2030. Since the 2013 ORMP was published, the "30 by 30 Watershed Forests Target" has continued the work of The Rain Follows the Forest plan.)
Target - Where we would like to be
  • Remove all invasive hooved animals from Priority I and II areas.
  • Remove or contain damaging invasive weeds that threaten Priority I and II areas. Monitor and control other forest threats including fires, predators, and plant diseases. Restore and plant native species in priority areas and buffer areas.
  • Establish benchmarks and monitor success of the on-the-ground actions.
  • Educate Hawaiʻi’s residents and visitors about the cultural, economic, and environmental importance of conserving native forests.
  • Promote consistent and informed land use decision-making that protects watersheds.
  • EPA and NOAA approval of CNPCP.

Decrease in the number of impaired streams

Hawai'i Department of Health is responsible for conducting monitoring, assessment, reporting under Clean Water Act (CWA) Sections 303(d) and 305(b), and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) development.

As of December 2014, there are 92 impaired* perennial** streams.

*Assessed, according to DOH Clean Water Branch (CWB), means tested for any of the following: enterococci (a pathogen which negatively affects recreation), nitrogen, nitrates, phosphorus, turbidity, and/or other (including trash)

**Perennial means a stream that flows year-round

To learn more, see the State of Hawaiʻi Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report (2014),  Draft State of Hawaiʻi Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report (2016), or EPA Water Quality Assessment Report (2014) data.

Agency: Department of Health

Images: (Above) Getty Images, (Below) He'eia Stream, Auwai at Kanewai, Next City

Videos: 'Talk Story with a Hanalei Stream Bank Restoration Project Engineer', DLNR, 'Comission on Water Resource Management', DLNR

Hanalei Stream Bank Restoration 

Water Resource Management 

Increase in percentage of wastewater recycled annually 

Recycled water is derived from wastewater that has been treated to various quality grades (via oxidation, disinfection, and/or filtration) depending on its intended use. Use of recycled water has become more significant due to the state’s growing population, limited potable water resources, and wastewater disposal issues. 

DOH Wastewater Branch has refined its data collection method to more accurately measure the amount of recycled water being used. Since 2015 data has been based on operator reports rather than estimations. Operator reports provide more accurate figures because they account for declines in use due to rainy periods, off-spec water, and equipment malfunctions. In 2015, 16.3 million gallons per day (MGD) were supplied for reuse (12.1%). In 2016, 17.2 MGD (12.8%) were supplied.

Agency: Department of Health

Images: (Above and Below) Getty Images

Reused water sources are indicated by the use of purple covers and pipes.

The Recycled Water Use GIS Web App allows users to search by TMK or address to determine their recycled water use classification.

Implementation of Section 319 Projects 

The Polluted Runoff Control (PRC) Program administers grant money it receives from the EPA (through Section 319(h) of the Federal Clean Water Act) to address polluted runoff. Section 319(h) funds support the implementation of polluted runoff control projects on a watershed or waterbody scale. Generally, 319-funded projects implement a component of an existing watershed management plan, total maximum daily load (TMDL), or other work/action plan to address water quality issues. Projects have a reasonable expectation of delivering water quality improvements. Information on previously funded 319 projects can be found at the Hawai’i Water Quality Extension Program.
For more information, or to learn about other strategies being developed to address NPS pollution, see the Department of Health - Clean Water Branch PRC Program's 2016 End of Year Report or the Clean Water Branch PRC Program Project Viewer.

Increase in outreach activities conducted for wastewater recycling

The DOH conducts outreach by presenting to conferences on water reuse, including the bi-annual ReUse Conference and the Pacific Water Conference. The department also trains responsible entities to properly manage reused water after citations are issued in order to prevent future violations.

Agency: Department of Health

Images: (Above) Getty Images, (Right) Wastewater Branch, personal communication

EPA and NOAA approval of CNPCP

The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program (CNPCP) identifies management measures for major sources of coastal nonpoint source (NPS) pollution, including agriculture, forestry, urban areas, marinas, hydromodifications, an wetlands. Nearly all of Hawaiʻi's CNPCP management measures have been approved by the EPA and NOAA, with only six management measures for New Development, New and Operating OSDS, and Roads, Highways, and Bridges requiring approval. In addition, one administrative element, Monitoring and Tracking, still requires approval by NOAA and the EPA. The State relies on cross-program coordination to monitor and assess water quality, prepare and implement plans for NPS-related efforts, and demonstrate water quality improvements. Partnerships are therefore critical to the success of statewide NPS management in Hawai‘i.

Agency: Hawai‘i Office of Planning

Images: Getty Images

Title Image: Hawaiʻi Magazine