Maui Water Quality Testing Expands, 14 Sites Added
The volunteer-based Hui O Ka Wai Ola ocean water quality testing program has expanded again, with the addition of 12 more testing sites in South Maui.
With this expansion, the program is now covering 48 shoreline locations where trained volunteers routinely test water quality on Maui every 2 to 3 weeks.
The Hui O Ka Wai Ola program is the first community-based water quality monitoring to measure for nutrients, along with turbidity, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH and temperature in Maui’s coastal waters.
Organizers say the program was established to support state and county efforts to improve water quality so that reefs and native fish populations can thrive; and create an environment that is safe for residents and visitors. Robin Newbold, co-founder and chairwoman of the Maui Nui Marine Resource Council said the group also wants to help identify problem areas, so remedial action may be taken as needed.
The program first launched in June 2016 in West Maui with 17 sites. One West Maui site was added in February 2017 (Nāpili Bay), and 6 additional West Maui sites were added in June 2017. The program expanded to include a dozen new test sites in South Maui in November 2017. The latest expansion in 2018 added another 12 South Maui sites. In all, the group of volunteers are testing 48 sites on Maui.
The program is made possible through the volunteers’ efforts and a joint partnership of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council, The Nature Conservancy, West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative and the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Health.
Financial support for the program is provided by the partners, along with the County of Maui Office of Economic Development, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, North Beach West Maui Benefit Fund, Nāpili Bay and Beach Foundation, Pride of Maui, Maui Ocean Center and individual donors and supporters.
“With many of Maui’s coral reefs in significant decline, it is critical that we reduce stressors to our reefs on a local scale as quickly as possible,” notes Tova Callender, coordinator supporting the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative. “Our water quality studies will help us understand the source of pollutants, which is the first step in addressing the stress to the reefs caused by impaired water quality and will hopefully make our reefs more resilient to climate change.“
Data provided by Hui O Ka Wai Ola will be used to supplement Health Department water quality monitoring on Maui.
Currently, only one Health Department employee tests water quality for the entire island due to budget constraints, said Dana Reed, the West Maui regional coordinator for the program. She said that supplementing the department’s testing for enterococcus bacteria, a marker for potentially harmful bacteria in the water, with nutrient data will provide a better view of changing water quality conditions that can harm coral reefs and humans.