Polluted Runoff Control Program
The Polluted Runoff Control Program’s mission is to protect and improve the quality of Hawai’i’s water resources by preventing and reducing nonpoint source pollution.
In order to achieve its mission, the PRC Program updates and implements Hawai’i’s Nonpoint Source Management Plan (2015-2020).
For more information please see our PRC Viewer!
What Is Polluted Runoff?
Polluted runoff, or nonpoint source pollution, results when stormwater or irrigation water washes pollutants from the land into streams and coastal waters. When it rains, water that does not infiltrate the soil runs over the ground and carries pollutants such as sediment, nutrients (from fertilizers), bacteria (from animal waste), toxic chemicals, oil, and trash into streams, rivers, and the ocean. Polluted runoff can destroy aquatic habitats and marine life, pose public health risks, and negatively impact Hawai’i’s economy and way of life, which rely heavily on water quality.
When it rains, water washes pollutants from Hawai’i’s ridges to the ocean. (Kaaawa Valley, Oahu)
Polluted runoff results from our activities on the land and in the water. Sources of polluted runoff include urban areas, agriculture, and cesspools. In urban areas, roads, buildings, and parking lots often prevent rain water from soaking into the ground. This increases the volume and speed of water runoff, increases erosion, and washes pollutants through storm drains into streams and the ocean. On farms, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and soil erosion can lead to polluted runoff problems. Cesspools, another source of polluted runoff, discharge untreated human waste directly into the ground, where it can contaminate the ocean, streams, and groundwater by releasing nutrients and disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
Stream levels can quickly rise during torrential downpours, resulting in erosion and exposed plants roots. The sediment that is washed away is a form of polluted runoff. (Waimanalo Stream, Oahu)
Watershed Planning and Polluted Runoff Control
The citizens of Hawai’i have the ability and responsibility to protect their waters from polluted runoff. The watershed planning process is one way they can become involved.
A watershed is an area of land where all of the water flows into a common body of water. Hawai’i’s streams and rivers flow downhill, from the highest island ridges to the ocean, connecting the communities they flow through along the way.
A watershed-based plan is a strategy and a work plan for achieving water resource goals for a specific watershed. The watershed planning process uses a series of cooperative, iterative steps to characterize existing conditions, identify and prioritize problems, define management objectives, and develop and implement protection or remediation strategies. The PRC Program supports and coordinates watershed planning as well as total maximum daily load (TMDL) implementation activities with partner organizations.
The following document was developed to assist groups interested in developing watershed-based plans.
About the Polluted Runoff Control Program
Hawai’i’s Department of Health Clean Water Branch administers the State’s PRC Program. The PRC Program has evolved over the last decade under the guidance of two federal statutes:
- Clean Water Act (CWA), Section 319
- Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments (CZARA), Section 6217
Although these two federal statues are distinct, their environmental goals overlap. In an effort to integrate polluted runoff implementation activities under CWA and CZARA, Hawai’i established a single plan—Hawai’i’s Nonpoint Source Management Plan (2015-2020). The Plan describes a combination of voluntary and regulatory activities and programs implemented by local, state and federal agencies intended to control polluted runoff and includes a five-year implementation plan.
- Management plans for polluted runoff control
- Hawai’i’s Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program (CNPCP) plans
- Hawai’i Local Action Strategy to Address Land-Based Pollution Threats to Coral Reefs (March 2004)
- Hawai’i’s Ocean Resources Management Plan (ORMP)
Polluted Runoff End of Fiscal Year Reports
- End of Fiscal Year Report 2017
- End of Fiscal Year Report 2016
- End Of Fiscal Year Report 2015
- End Of Fiscal Year Report 2014
- End Of Fiscal Year Report 2013
- End Of Fiscal Year Report 2012
- End Of Fiscal Year Report 2011
- End Of Fiscal Year Report 2010
- End Of Fiscal Year Report 2009
- End Of Fiscal Year Report 2008
- End Of Fiscal Year Report 2007
- End Of Fiscal Year Report 2006
- End Of Fiscal Year Report 2005
- End Of Fiscal Year Report 2004
- End Of Fiscal Year Report 2003
- End Of Fiscal Year Report 2002
Polluted Runoff Resources
- EPA Region 9
- EPA Watershed Handbook
- NOAA’s Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program
- Hawai’i Coastal Zone Management Program
- Hawai’i’s Local Action Strategy to Address Land-Based Pollution Threats to Coral Reefs
- Hawai’i Backyard Conservation, Ideas for Every Homeowner
- Hawai’i Residential Rain Garden Manual by Hui o Ko’olaupoko