Right now there’s just one person at the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) responsible for water quality monitoring on Maui.
To help, three organizations–The Nature Conservancy, Maui Nui Marine Resource Council (MNMRC) and the DOH itself–have created a new Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP). This follows the creation of Hui O Ka Wai Ola, a citizen science program developed by the Conservancy, MNMRC, University of Hawaii and the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative.
“Hui O Ka Wai Ola helps us by providing more samples on Maui that we can use to assess changes in water quality,” said Watson Okubo, Monitoring and Analysis Section Chief, Clean Water Branch, State Department of Health, in a Mar. 23 Nature Conservancy news release. “It’s a good idea to build up our community’s expertise and understanding of water quality issues, and having access to trained community members who can accurately assess water quality could help extend our capacity in case of an emergency.”
Put simply, Hui O Ka Wai Ola volunteers can now use the methods in the QAPP to collect all sorts of marine data: acidity, salinity, temperature, organic nutrient levels and so forth.
“Unfortunately, brown water events have become all too common on Maui–we see some of our coastal waters filled with sediment after each storm,” said Emily Fielding, the Conservancy’s Maui Marine Program Director, in the Mar. 23 news release. “Across Maui Nui we are experiencing some of the worst water quality in the state, which impacts our coral reefs and fisheries, and all the benefits we derive from them–for food, recreation, and the economy. Poor water quality, combined with coral bleaching from climate change, can push our reefs beyond their capacity to recover.”
According to The Nature Conservancy, Maui’s northern reefs have declined from 30 percent to 10 percent between 2000 and 2015. One of the likely causes is runoff caused by big storms. The sediment and pollutants carried down into the ocean can cover over the coral and/or spur rapid algal overgrowth, which would then compete with the reefs.
“Our goal with Hui O Ka Wai Ola is to supplement DOH water quality monitoring and, in doing so, create a more complete picture of the status of Maui’s nearshore waters,” said Dana Reed, a scientist with MNMRC, in the Mar. 23 news release. “We’re excited to be able to take steps that will help us understand and address Maui’s brown water events and other water impairment problems.”
For more information, go to Huiokawaiola.com.