Clean Water Branch      Department of Health


Term Definition
Brackish Waters Waters with dissolved inorganic ion concentration (salinity) greater than 0.5 parts per thousand, but less than thirty-two parts per thousand (Chapter 11:54-1, HAR).
Brown Water Advisory Health advisory to stay out of coastal waters in specified areas. This type of advisory is usually given when the National Weather service issues a Flash Flood Warning or upon recommendation from Clean Water Branch staff. Coastal waters may become polluted from flood waters and storm water runoff that may possibly contain any combination of matter from overflowing cesspools, pesticides, animal fecal matter, dead animals, chemicals, and associated flood debris. The message is; if coastal waters are turbid and brown, stay out.
Cesspool An individual wastewater system consisting of an excavation in the ground whose depth is greater than its widest surface dimension, which receives untreated wastewater, and retains or is designed to retain the organic matter and solids discharging therein, but permits the liquid to seep through its bottom or sides to gain access to the underground formation.
Clostridium Perfringens A member of the sulfite-reducing clostridia (SRC), which are spore-forming anaerobic bacteria excreted in human and animal fecal matter, but unlike other SRC, do not appear to grow in the aquatic/soil environment (EPA 823-R-07-006, 2007).
Coastal Waters “All waters surrounding the islands of the State from the coast of any island to a point three miles seaward from the coast, and, in the case of streams, rivers, and drainage ditches, to a point three miles seaward from their point of discharge into the sea and includes those brackish waters, fresh waters and salt waters that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide” (Chapter 342D-1, HRS)
Dissolved Oxygen (DO) Oxygen gas which is dissolved in the water column and available for breathing by aquatic organisms; DO levels vary by temperature, salinity, turbulence, photosynthetic activity and internal oxygen demand.
Effluent Wastewater – treated or untreated – that flows out of a treatment plant, swever, or industrial outfall. Generally refers to wastes discharged into surface waters.
Enterococcus Bacteria normally found in the feces of people and many animals. Two types of enterococci -- Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium --occasionally cause human disease, most commonly infections and wound infections. Other infections, including those of the blood stream (bacteraemia), heart valves (endocarditis) and the brain (meningitis) can occur in severely ill patients in hospitals. Enterococci also often colonize open wounds and skin ulcers.
Fresh Waters All waters with a dissolved inorganic ion concentration of less than 0.5 parts per thousand (Chapter 11:54-1, HAR).
Intermittent Streams Fresh waters flowing in definite natural channels only during part of the year or season. Intermittent streams include many tributaries of perennial streams. (Chapter 11:54-1, HAR).
pH The pH scale measures how acidic or basic a substance is. It ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral. A pH less than 7 is acidic, and a pH greater than 7 is basic. Each whole pH value below 7 is ten times more acidic than the next higher value.
Perennial Streams Fresh waters flowing year – round in all or part of natural channels, portions of which may be modified by humans. Flow in perennial streams may vary seasonally. Perennial streams may be subdivided into longitudinal zones, based on elevation and gradient: (1) headwater zone (elevation above 800 m [2600 ft] or gradient above 30 per cent or both); (2) mid-zone (elevation between 50-800 m [165-2600 ft] or gradient between 5 and 30 per cent or both)’ and (3) terminal zone (elevation below 50 m [165 ft] or gradient below 5 per cent or both). Perennial streams may be either continuous or interrupted. Continuous perennial streams discharge to the ocean in their natural state, and contain water in the entire length of the stream channel year-round. Interrupted perennial streams usually flow perennially in their upper reaches but only seasonally in parts of their middle or lower reaches, due to either downward seepage of surface flow (naturally interrupted) or to man-made water diversions(artificially interrupted) (Chapter 11:54-1, HAR).
Saline or Salt Waters Waters with dissolved inorganic ion concentration greater than thirty-two parts per thousand (Chapter 11:54-1, HAR).
Sanitary Sewer Overflow Properly designed, operated, and maintained sanitary sewer systems are meant to collect and transport all of the sewage that flows into them to a publicly owned treatment works (POTW). However, occasional unintentional discharges of raw sewage from municipal sanitary sewers occur in almost every system. These types of discharges are called sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs). SSOs have a variety of causes, including but not limited to severe weather, improper system operation and maintenance, and vandalism. EPA estimates that there are at least 40,000 SSOs each year. The untreated sewage from these overflows can contaminate our waters, causing serious water quality problems. It can also back-up into basements, causing property damage and threatening public health.
Septic System A typical septic system has four main components: a pipe from the home, a septic tank, a drainage field, and the soil. Microbes in the soil digest or remove most contaminants from wastewater before it eventually reaches groundwater.
Septic Tank A watertight receptacle which receives the raw wastewater and discharges a settled, partially treated effluent.
Sewer Pipe or conduit or any other appurtenances that carry wastewater from a building or buildings to a specific points for treatment and disposal.
Sewer Cleanout A plumbing clean out is a cleanout fitting with a removable plug that is found in a roughed in waste system. It is designed to help keep clear any type of debris that could cause any type of stoppage in the sewage drain lines. ( (
Sewer Lateral This is the sewer pipe that connects a building's plumbing system to the main sewer line in the street. Maintenance of sewer lateral pipes located within private property is generally the responsibility of the property owner. Sewer laterals are also called "service laterals," "house laterals," or simply "laterals.
State Waters As defined by section 342D-1, HRS, means all waters, fresh, brackish, or salt around and within the State, including, but not limited to, coastal waters, streams, rivers, drainage ditches, ponds, reservoirs, canals, ground waters, and lakes; provided that drainage ditches, ponds, and reservoirs required as part of a water pollution control system are excluded. This chapter applies to all state waters, including wetlands, subject to the following exceptions: (1) This chapter does not apply to groundwater. (2) This chapter does not apply to ditches, flumes, ponds and reservoirs that are required as part of a water pollution control system. (3) This chapter does not apply to ditches, flumes, ponds, and reservoirs that are used solely for irrigation and do not overflow into any other state waters, unless such ditches, flumes, ponds, and reservoirs are waters of the United States as defined at 40 C.F.R. 122.2. The State of Hawai'i has those boundaries stated in Hawai'i Constitution, art. XV, §l.
Stormwater Stormwater runoff is generated when precipitation from rain and/or snowmelt events flows over land or impervious surfaces and does not percolate into the ground. As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops), it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if the runoff is discharged untreated.
Streams Seasonal or continuous water flowing unidirectionally down altitudinal gradients in all or part of natural or modified channels as a result of either surface water runoff or ground water influx, or both. Streams may be either perennial or intermittent and include all natural or modified watercourses.
Turbidity Turbidity is a measure of the degree to which the water loses its transparency due to the presence of suspended particulates.
Wastewater Any liquid waste, whether treated or not, and whether animal, mineral or vegetable, including agricultural, industrial and thermal wastes.
Watershed The area of land that drains water, sediment, and dissolved materials to a common outlet at some point along a stream channel (Dunne and Leopold, 1978).