Maui News

Ocean Water Quality Monitored Along 29 Maui Beaches; Learn Results at Presentation

October 28, 2021, 9:40 AM HST
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Maui volunteers have been monitoring the ocean water quality at 29 beaches during the past five years through the program Hui O Ka Wai Ola. Photo Credit: Maui Nui Marine Resource Council

Every three weeks year-round, more than 20 Maui residents monitor the ocean water quality along the coasts of South and West Maui in the volunteer-based program Hui O Ka Wai Ola (Association Of The Living Waters).

The volunteers, working in teams, carry portable lab equipment to 29 beaches in the early morning hours. They wade knee deep into the ocean to gather water samples. Initial testing is completed in their cars, with additional testing taking place at indoor labs and at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. 

Data has been gathered through this unique program for five years, including through most of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The programʻs findings about Maui coastal waters will be shown during a free Zoom presentation on Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 5:30 pm. The presentation is hosted by Maui Nui Marine Resource Council as part of its “Know Your Ocean Speaker Series.” To register, go to https://bit.ly/WaterQualityWebinar.

Tiara Stark, Senior Team Lead of the Hui O Ka Wai Ola Program, will conduct the presentation. Stark is responsible for overseeing all of the program’s water quality monitoring tasks and regularly accompanies the volunteers on their monitoring expeditions. She will describe the coastal water quality trends Hui O Ka Wai Ola has identified, and explain how these findings are helping to drive watershed management actions in our community. 

Tiara Stark, Senior Team Lead of the Hui O Ka Wai Ola Program, will conduct a presentation about the results from 29 beaches that have been monitored for the past five years. Photo Courtesy: Maui Nui Marine Resource Council
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Starkʻs presentation will include a snapshot of the findings at each of the projects’ 29 monitoring locations, so attendees can learn the latest about ocean water quality at their favorite beaches. 

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Stark said most of the 29 locations where Hui O Ka Wai Ola monitors ocean water quality are failing to meet State of Hawai‘i Department of Health standards. 

“This is frustrating to our community, because we all want clean ocean water for our shorelines,” Stark said. “But with all of the data weʻve been gathering, weʻve acquired important information about whatʻs likely happening upslope from the ocean in our watersheds thatʻs creating the problems that weʻre seeing.

“The data weʻve gathered will help shape better management strategies for our watersheds with the aim of achieving cleaner ocean water to benefit our coral reefs, our nearshore fish populations and marine wildlife, and the people of Maui County who love being in and around the ocean.” 

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Hui O Ka Wai Ola was co-founded in 2016 through a partnership of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council, The Nature Conservancy and West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative. 

The three organizations worked closely with the State of Hawai‘i Department of Health Clean Water Branch to establish consistent protocols to ensure the Hui O Ka Wai Ola data would be readily accepted for reports by county, state and federal agencies, including the US Department of Environmental Protection. 

Maui Nui Marine Resource Council, The Nature Conservancy, and West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative continue to manage the program together. 

Learn more about Hui O Ka Wai Ola and how you can volunteer at www.huiokawaiola.com

To learn more about Maui Nui Marine Resource Council, go to www.mauireefs.org.

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