Water Quality in Honolulu, Hawaii
Watershed: Waolani Stream
What is the water quality like in Honolulu, HI?
Let’s dive deeper into what’s in Honolulu water.
What’s in Honolulu water?
Here are the top 5 chemical compounds in your water and what health issues they can potentially cause:
- Arsenic – Potential effect: Cancer
- Bromoform – Potential effect: Cancer
- Hexavalent Chromium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Nitrate – Potential effect: Cancer
- Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer
These are five of the 23 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
7 of these contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.
See the What Can You Do? section below for all of the contaminants you can filter out and how to do it.
Where does Honolulu’s water come from?
Honolulu’s water comes from the Waolani Stream watershed.
5 of the 6 EPA assessed water sources in the Waolani Stream watershed are in Impaired or Unknown condition. These include:
- Honolulu Harbor – Unknown
- Kalihi – Impaired
- Kapalama – Impaired
- Keehi Lagoon – Impaired
- Nuuanu – Impaired
Ideally, a water source would be rated in Good condition. The Honolulu Generating Station is in Good condition.
Whether a water source is in Impaired or Good condition refers to the quality of these uses:
- Drinking Water
- Aquatic Life
- Fish and Shellfish Consumption
Learn more from How’s My Waterway
See below for what you can do to improve Honolulu’s water.
Conclusion – What Can You Do?
Information about water quality can be surprising.
But there’s no reason to lose hope. There are things you can do in your household as well as things you can do at a community level.
In Your Household:
- Use Berkey filters with activated carbon to filter out 20 of the 23 contaminants in your drinking water.
- Berkey filters can also remove up to 99.99% of Lead in Honolulu water.
- Brita can filter 11 contaminants (and Lead depending on the filter).
- Note: We may receive a commission if you decide to purchase filters through links on this page.
- To filter out 21 of the 23 contaminants, consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system for your house.
- These are more expensive than pitchers to purchase, but can be more effective.
- They have the benefit of filtering out heavy hitters like:
- 1,2,3-Trichloropropane – Paint or varnish remover, cleaning and degreasing agent, and a solvent.
- Arsenic – health effects in water
- Barium – In low doses, barium ions act as a muscle stimulant, and higher doses affect the nervous system, causing cardiac irregularities, tremors, weakness, anxiety, shortness of breath, and paralysis.
- Chlordane – Banned insecticide. Risks include: type-2 diabetes, lymphoma, prostate cancer, obesity, testicular cancer, and breast cancer. [Source]
- Chromium (total)
- Dibromoacetic acid
- Dichloroacetic acid
- Dieldrin – insecticide. Persistent organic pollutant. Banned in most of the world. Linked to Parkinson’s, breast cancer, and immune, reproductive, and nervous system damage. [Source]
- Heptachlor epoxide – insecticide. Exposure to higher doses of heptachlor in newborn animals leads to decreased body weight and death. Transmissible through breast milk. [Source]
- Hexavalent chromium – health effects
- Selenium – toxicity
- Total trihalomethanes – byproduct of chlorination*
*Chlorination is an effective method of disinfecting/treating drinking water. You can then use a water filter to reduce the effects of chlorination byproducts to get the safest, cleanest water possible.
In Your Community:
Contact your local government officials and put pressure on them to invest in cleaner waterways and upgraded city water filtration and treatment.
Go to: http://www.honolulu.gov/ to find contact information for your local officials.