The volunteer-based water quality testing program known as Hui O Ka Wai Ola (Association of the Living Waters), has expanded the number of test sites on the island. Beginning Nov. 7, the association will test 12 South Maui shoreline locations every two weeks for six months, then every three weeks thereafter. The project will eventually be expanded to test a total of 24 South Maui locations.
The Hui O Ka Wai Ola water quality-testing project is the result of a partnership with Maui Nui Marine Resource Council (MNMRC), The Nature Conservancy, West Maui Ridge to Reef (R2R) Initiative, and University of Hawaii Maui College, working with the State of Hawaii Department of Health (DOH).
“Our goal is to support the Department of Health and Maui County efforts to improve coastal water quality so that coral reefs and native fish populations thrive, and our residents and visitors are safe,” said Robin Newbold, Co-founder and Chair of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. “We want to help identify problem areas, so remedial action may be taken as needed.”
More than 20 volunteers have signed up to work at the 12 new South Maui sites. They have completed intensive training to assure that they collect water quality samples according to strict Department of Health (DOH) standards set forth in the Hui’s Quality Assured Program Plan.
The program will test for nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous compounds, which can indicate pollution from wastewater, run-off from agriculture, landscaping and/or golf courses. Too many nutrients in the water can cause an increase in invasive algae (limu), which is damaging to coral reefs. The resulting data will be used to supplement DOH water quality monitoring on Maui and can be viewed at the Hui O Ka Wai Ola website. In addition, the program will eventually allow for additional testing during brown water events.
Testing at 18 of the West Maui sites of the Hui O Ka Wai Ola program is currently funded by North Beach West Maui Benefit Fund; testing at the remaining six West Maui sites is currently funded by Napili Bay and Beach Foundation, as well as National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
“This expansion to South Maui is made possible with generous support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Maui County Office of Economic Development and community donors,” said Amy Hodges, Programs and Operations Coordinator at MNMRC. “Funding for the laboratory and field equipment and initial start-up costs were provided by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) is providing space for storing the water testing equipment.”
The three nonprofits that lead the project rely upon public donations and local grants to finance their work. “We hope that the public will support this valuable effort with donations on behalf of their favorite beaches in South and West Maui,” said Newbold. “We all want clean ocean water, healthy reefs and thriving local fish populations. This project is one way to help achieve these goals.”
“In addition to the millions of dollars in revenue directly and indirectly coming from coral reefs in Hawaii, we have to think of their ecological, cultural and recreational value. If we want future generations to benefit from Hawaii’s marine resources, we must act now to protect this valuable ecosystem,” said Newbold.
To learn more about Hui O Ka Wai Ola and ways you can donate or volunteer, visit Huiokawaiola.com.
Photo courtesy of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council