Clean Water for Reefs Puakō

Collaborators & Contacts

CORAL Contacts

Danielle Swenson, Engagement Manager
Phone: 808.721.6614

Erica Perez, Program Manager
Phone: 808.494.5770

Please contact for more information about the project.

Puakō Advisory Committee

In order to ensure all options and issues are investigated and addressed thoroughly and efficiently, and this project is conducted in the most cohesive way possible, we have established an Advisory Committee for the Clean Water for Reefs in Puakō project. The committee comprises experts and representatives from county regulatory bodies, academia, the Puakō community, and representatives from the construction, civil engineering, and non-profit sectors. In addition to this committee, we are connecting regularly with individuals from the Puakō community and elsewhere to ensure our strategies, process, and plans are in line with the community’s needs and priorities. Below is a list of the committee members and their relevant affiliations.

  • Dr. Tracy Weigner, University of Hawai’i Hilo
  • Dr. Steven Colbert, University of Hawai’i Hilo
  • Jim Beets, University of Hawai’i Hilo/Marine Lab Project Lead
  • George Robertson, Puakō Community Association, Community Representative
  • Dennis Tulang, Former Manager of the Wastewater Branch, Environmental Management Division, State Department of Health and current Senior Project Manager with AECOM
  • Mahana Gomes, Executive Director of Hawai’i Rural Water Association, Certified Operator
  • Chad Wiggins, Marine Program Director, Hawai’i Island at The Nature Conservancy
  • Mike O’Toole, Puakō Community Association, Community Representative


Hawai’i Rural Water Association

HRWA logoHawai’i Rural Water Association (HRWA) provides training and technical assistance to water and wastewater systems throughout the State and the Western Pacific US Trust States. HRWA is collaborating with CORAL through their USDA FSA Source Water Protection Program, EPA Technical Assistance Wastewater Program and USDA RD Wastewater Circuit Rider Program. HRWA will provide professional support and technical assistance to CORAL and the Puakō Community to help determine the most feasible and environmentally responsible wastewater disposal method for the area. The proliferation of cesspools throughout Hawai’i is a major concern for drinking water resources as well as to the environment and HRWA is happy to support CORAL in these efforts.

South Kohala Community Partnership

logoThe South Kohala Coastal Partnership (SKCP) includes representatives from the community, resorts, schools, organizations, as well as resource managers from State and Federal agencies that are collaborating to implement the South Kohala Conservation Action Plan (SKCAP). The SKCAP includes mauka (mountain) to makai (ocean) management strategies that will help mitigate threats and enhance the health of the coastal and marine ecosystems from Kawaihae to Anaeho‘omalu in the South Kohala District. The SKCP demonstrates the importance of collaboration and community stewardship to achieve the shared vision of a restored, healthy, abundant, and resilient South Kohala coastal ecosystem cared for and cherished by an island community guided by the values and traditions of South Kohala. The SKCP supports projects such as the Clean Water for Reef Program in Puakō that will help to reduce and mitigate impacts associated with land-based sources of pollution to coastal and marine ecosystems. This project will implement strategies outlined in the SKCAP as well as the South Kohala Community Development Plan and could serve as an example for other communities.

University of Hawai’i Hilo

UHH LogoUniversity of Hawai`i Hilo is conducting vital research and compiling important information about sewage pollution at Puakō. They will study the distribution of sewage pollution along the coast and the relationship between cesspools and nearshore water quality, and use water quality measurements to determine whether state standards are exceeded. Information will be shared with the community, county, state, and other coral reef jurisdictions and will be used to increase awareness and understanding of sewage impacts to reefs and human health threats.