The early Polynesian settlers of Hawaiʻi correlated wai (water) with wealth, believing that all land and water belong to the gods. Today, wastewater pollution (particularly, raw sewage pollution from cesspools) reaching Hawaiʻi’s coastal waters threatens traditional culture and the marine environment and negatively impacts our quality of life. Wastewater contains harmful bacteria and pathogens that can make people sick. It also contains high levels of nutrients and chemicals that harm our treasured coral reefs and, in turn, threaten Hawaiʻi’s tourism industry and economy.

The good news is that communities, nonprofit organizations and the government are banding together to transition to clean water by replacing outdated cesspools that pollute our wai and kai (ocean).

Clean Water Toolkit

The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) is pleased to present the first tool in our Clean Water Toolkit.

This resource is a guide to help nonprofit organizations and community groups interested in transitioning away from cesspools to improved wastewater treatment. The guide provides a high-level “lay of the land” for cesspool transition. The better informed you are, the smoother the transition and the more likely it is that you will find a locally appropriate solution.

In this guide, you will learn about the wastewater landscape in Hawaiʻi and gain an understanding of the process for transitioning, including:

  • Why cesspool transition is important to the health of your family and the environment
  • What you need to know about the problem and potential solutions
  • What the state of Hawaiʻi is currently doing to act
  • How to ask the right questions to prepare for cesspool transition

*Peter Hackstedde (Jan 25 1952 – Mar 15, 2019) was a coral reef champion and an integral part of the success of our Clean Water for Reefs Puakō project.

Wailea Bay homeowner Robby Robertson looks on as Peter Hackstedde*, late President of the Puakō Advisory Committee smells R-1 treated water.

Contact Us

For any questions please contact Erica Perez, CORAL’s Program Manager for Hawaiʻi Island at

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