Increase Fresh Water Capacity

By 2030, increase fresh water capacity by 100 million gallons per day using a baseline capacity of January 1, 2016.

In 2013, Hawai‘i’s statewide water demand was 449 million gallons per day (mgd). Using this figure as the baseline, coupled with projections for population increase, it is estimated that 100 mgd of additional fresh water capacity* is needed in order to meet Hawai‘i’s future water demands without extracting more valuable groundwater resources or resorting to high cost alternatives such as desalination. To achieve this ambitious goal, key stakeholders across the public, private, and philanthropic sectors must work together on conservation, reuse, and recharge initiatives.

* Fresh water capacity refers to the amount of water available for consumption, and can be defined as the total decrease in water demand combined with the increase in water supply.

Figure 1: Conservation, Recharge, and Reuse goals from Hawaiʻi’s Fresh Water Blueprint
Hawaii’s statewide goal of increasing fresh water capacity by 100mgd by 2030 comes from Hawaii’s Fresh Water Initiative, a consensus-based strategy to increase water security for the Hawaiian Islands. More information about the initiative along with strategies to reach the goal can be found here in Hawaii’s Fresh Water Blueprint.
As of April 2019 Hawaii has seen an increase of approximately 11mgd in increased water security. 4mgd of this comes from water conservation through a water security pilot program, 5mgd comes from water reuse through the revision of Hawaii’s Water Reuse Guidelines, and 2mgd comes from water recharge through restored funding in 2018 for doubling watershed protection. There are multiple other initiatives ongoing in the state for water conservation, reuse, and recharge, and data will be added to the Dashboard when it becomes available.

CONSERVATION

164 gallons of water are used per day person
Water conservation is the most efficient and cost effective way to manage the demand on Hawai‘i’s limited fresh water resources. Water conservation can be achieved through improving the efficiency of both residential and agricultural water usage. The most current estimate for water usage in Hawaii estimates that 164 gallons of water per day per person is used. In order to reach Hawaii’s 2030 water security goal, this needs to be reduced to 130 gallons per day per person. Efficiency in agriculture is also important for reducing Hawaii’s water footprint, and 10 mgd in increased water security should come from efficiencies in agriculture irrigation.
Water Use by Sector & County

Figures 1-4: A pie chart representing percent water used per county by sector, 2018. Source: Commission on Water Resource Management. (Note: Not all water use data was reported, reporting compliance = 48.4%.) 

RECHARGE

7.5% rise in paved paradise
Water recharge delivers rainfall and surface water back into aquifers. Over time, developed areas and pavement has changed the way water naturally recharges by preventing water from being absorbed back into the earth. From 2005– 2011 there was approximately a 7.5% increase in development and paved areas statewide (NOAA C-CAP). In addition, changes in upland forest (such as the introduction of invasive species) have reduced the amount of direct water recharge. Recharge can be improved through increasing upland forested protection and increasing the development of green infrastructure. To help incentivize green infrastructure and sustainable stormwater management, storm water utilities have been authorized in Hawaii and will provide increased fresh water capacity as they are developed.
Figure 5: Impervious surfaces are land parcels that do not absorb water, often asphalt or concrete. This map shows the percent of impervious land in a given tract, with darker colors indicating higher percentages. Red areas are extracted from the National Land Cover Database, while Honolulu is shown in gray (zoom in for features to appear). 
Source: National Land Cover Database & City & Country of Honolulu

REUSE

16% of wastewater is being reused
Currently only about 16% of water is reused in Hawaii. To provide water security and reduce the amount of wastewater flowing into the ocean, Hawaii needs to double the amount of wastewater currently being used to 50 mgd. In order to divert wastewater to other uses rather than discharging it, Hawaii should: 1) Ensure that the right quality water is matched with the right and safe end use and 2) Safely eliminate barriers to recapture and reuse. By enabling the management of wastewater onsite (through decentralizing our water infrastructure) millions of gallons can be reused rather than diverted into the ocean. This will require lowering the barriers to residential, industrial, and agricultural applications and changing the paradigm surrounding recycled water.
Progress on Water Reuse
Figure 6 shows the volume of wastewater reused per day statewide in million gallons per day (bar graph) and the estimated percent of wastewater reused (line graph), assuming 120mgd of wastewater treated for all years. 
Source: Department of Health, Wastewater Branch
Figure 7 shows the current status of the 2030 goal of reusing 30 million gallons per day by 2030. 
Source: Department of Health, Wastewater Branch

Learn More and Make a Difference

What You Can Do

  • Whenever you see water being wasted (a broken water pipe, a malfunctioning irrigation sprinkler, a faucet left running, or something similar) please contact the Board of Water Supply’s Water Waste Hotline at 748-5041 or contactus@hbws.org.
  • 100 different ways to conserve water
More Information

SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
SDG 14 - Life Below Water
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources
SDG 15 - Life on Land
Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss
SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development