Honolulu’s Early Sewage System

Honolulu’s sewage system in the early 1900s decreased deaths from water-borne illnesses and raised life expectancy.

In ancient Hawaii, kapu prohibited defecating and urinating in natural water sources, including streams, wetlands, and the ocean. However, when the foreigners arrived in Hawaii in the early 1800s, people stopped following the kapu, and trash and sewage went into cesspools, rivers, the Honolulu Harbor, and the surrounding ocean. Thus, Honolulu reeked of sewage, and the resulting spread of water-borne diseases killed Native Hawaiians at an alarming rate. Read more


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