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Hirono Announces More Than $18.9 Million to Expand Access to Safe Drinking Water in West Oahu

~ Funding will be used to design and build a new facility to desalinate seawater, creating a new sustainable drinking water source on Oahu ~

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, announced more than $18.9 million in funding for the Honolulu Board of Water Supply’s “Kalaeloa Seawater Desalination Project.” The funding for this project will go toward designing and building a desalination facility that will remove dissolved mineral salts in seawater to obtain fresh drinking water, creating a new sustainable water source on Oahu.

“As we work to combat the impacts of climate change, it is important that we protect Hawaii’s natural resources and strengthen our water infrastructure,” said Senator Hirono. “This project will help reduce reliance on our finite groundwater, while also creating a new reliable and sustainable water source on Oahu to meet increasing demand. Hawaii’s families deserve access to clean, safe drinking water and I am glad this funding will support our sustainability efforts and community growth in West Oahu.”

The new desalination facility will use reverse osmosis to remove salt from seawater, effectively creating a sustainable water source that can be used during periods of drought—for climate change resilience—and will reduce water transfers from Central Oahu to Ewa. The facility will also help meet increased demand for safe, potable drinking water and reduce reliance on groundwater as a water source. It will produce 1.7 million gallons of potable water per day, with provisions for future expansion to 5 million gallons of potable water a day. This funding was awarded by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation Title XVI Program, which identifies and investigates opportunities to reclaim and reuse wastewaters and impaired ground and surface water in the 17 Western states and Hawaii.

Senator Hirono, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has championed legislation to protect Hawaii’s environment and natural resources, while also working to support local farmers and agriculture, and speed the transition to clean, renewable energy in Hawaii and across the country. In June 2024, Senator Hirono introduced the National Interagency Seed and Restoration Center Establishment Act, legislation that would create and fund a National Interagency Seed and Restoration Center within the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to promote the conservation and restoration of native plant communities across the U.S. In May 2024, Senator Hirono announced that the U.S. Forest Service is awarding more than $5.6 million to help plan for and prevent wildfires in Hawaii. The funding, made available through the Community Wildfire Defense Grant (CWDG) Program, will be allocated to nine projects across the state to help at-risk communities plan for and reduce the risk of wildfire. In October 2023, Senator Hirono announced $2 million in federal support for three projects working to advance environmental justice across Hawaii. The projects will ensure that disadvantaged communities, who have historically suffered from underinvestment, have access to clean air and water and climate resilience solutions.