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Drinking the Rain at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

March 14, 2014

Did You Know? Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is home to the state’s largest public rainwater catchment system. The system provides 5.5 million gallons of drinkable water per year, and is appreciated by park staff, partner organizations, and visitors alike. You can refill your water bottle at several water spigots in the park including Kīlauea Visitor Center, and Jaggar Museum.


The drinking water poster at Kīlauea Visitor Center invites you to fill up your bottles.

This innovative water system is comprised of a rain catchment collection system, a treatment system, and a pressurized distribution system, all complying with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safe drinking water standards.

water tanks

Two of the large water tanks that store rainwater at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

The system harvests rainwater from nearly six acres of designated rain catchment structures, which include two elevated rainsheds, and two lined ground reservoirs. These structures route the collected rainwater to five steel raw water storage tanks, with a total storage volume of approximately 5.3 million gallons! The raw water is pumped through the treatment system, and is filtered through a series of cartridge and sand filters, and then disinfected. The finished water is pumped into two 500,000-gallon storage tanks, for a total of one million gallons of stored, treated, delicious drinking water.

sand filters

The large sand filters that purify the rainwater into drinking water.

The purified rainwater is then distributed to 56 facilities (the visitor center, Jaggar Museum, offices, etc.) and is used by staff and visitors throughout the park. The entire system is operated and maintained by certified park employees. Water quality data is gathered and recorded to ensure that safe drinking water standards are met. The catchment system has been in operation since 1929, and the drinking water is historically pristine, despite possible pollutants from volcanic eruptions.

A lined reservoir.

A lined reservoir.

Fill 'er up!

Park Ranger Travis fills his bottle with delicious water: brought by rain, filtered by sand, pumped by the power of the sun.

HPPA bottles

Forget your bottle? Pick one up at the Hawaii Pacific Parks Association bookstore! They not only look cool, they prevent plastic from entering the landfill, and proceeds benefit park programs.

So the next time you’re at the park, fill up your bottle and cheers! Have a drink on Mother Nature!

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