Focus Areas:
Clean Water & Coastal Preservation

In 2021, the Surfrider Foundation in Hawaii will focus on advocating for clean water and coastal preservation.


Clean Water

Surfrider’s Clean Water Initiative strives to protect water quality in local waterways and reduce ocean pollution so it is safe to surf, swim, and play in the ocean.

Our priority, statewide bills for 2021 focus on two main goals:

1. Improve Testing & Public Notification at Hawaii Beaches (Region wide) – The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) runs a beach monitoring program and issues advisories when bacteria levels exceed the health standard. Our policy priorities for 2021 focus on improving water quality monitoring across the state, updating the tiering/prioritization of monitored beaches to be more equitable (and not concentrated in resort areas), and continuing regular beach monitoring schedule when Brown Water Alerts are issued.

2. Reduce the Impact of Cesspools on Coastal Waters (Region wide) – Hawaii’s 88,000 cesspools are one of the biggest threats to water quality across the state, discharging 53 million gallons per day of sewage into coastal waters. Along with a robust public education component, our policy priorities for 2021 and beyond focus on establishing a statewide cesspool and septic system registry and developing programs/incentives that encourage cesspool upgrades.

Clean Water Bills We’re Monitoring

  • SB 350: Improved HDOH Testing
  • SB 582: Including plastic as a pollutant – adds plastic to the definition of “water pollutant” in chapter 342D of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.
    • Status: Did not pass
    • View Surfrider’s testimony
  • SB 369: Cesspool Conversions –  requires a cesspool to be upgraded or converted to a wastewater system approved by the department of health, prior to 1/1/2050. 
    • Status: Did not pass

Coastal Preservation

The Surfrider Foundation’s Coastal Preservation Initiative protects our shorelines. We proactively address threats like coastal development, sea walls and other types of shoreline armoring and beach dredge and fill projects to ensure the protection of our coast.

As an island state, Hawaii is particularly susceptible to the impacts of sea level rise and chronic erosion. It is estimated up to 40% of Hawaii’s sandy beaches could be lost by 2050. Our 2021 legislative priorities are therefore focused on addressing coastal armoring and promoting long-term shoreline management plans.

Coastal Preservation Bills We’re Monitoring

  • Sea Level Rise Disclosure:
    • Did not pass HB554: Requires sellers to disclose whether the real property lies within the sea level rise exposure area designated by the Hawaii climate change mitigation and adaptation commission or its successor.
    • Passed! SB474: Requires that mandatory seller disclosures in real estate transactions include identification of residential real properties lying within the sea level rise exposure area. 
  • Pu’uloa EIS Resolution: (not introduced) 

Plastic Pollution Bills We’re Monitoring

  • SB 582: Including “plastic” as a pollutant – adds plastic to the definition of “water pollutant” in chapter 342D of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. 
    • Status: Did not pass
    • View Surfrider’s testimony
  • Passed! HB 1102: Bans balloon releases – Prohibits the intentional release of balloons inflated with a gas that is lighter than air.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) – Unfortunately no EPR bills have advanced through the 2021 session.