Maui News

There’s a new FlushAware app and you can learn about it during Ocean Speaker Series

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Maui-based Reef Power is working on growing native limu (seaweed) to polish nutrients from reuse wastewater in a turf scrubber. Photo Courtesy: Reef Power

The average person flushes their toilet five times per day. But when you flush, do you know where your wastewater goes and what impacts it has on the beaches and coastal waters?

To help provide answers, Maui Nui Marine Resource Council is hosting a special “Know Your Ocean Speaker Series” presentation on Zoom on March 2 at 5:30 p.m. featuring Travis Liggett, who created the new FlushAware app.

To register for the presentation, go to https://bit.ly/FlushAwareWebinar

Liggett, president of Reef Power, developed the FlushAware online education system that informs users about the treatment level and destination of their Maui Island disposal method, while providing tools for activism and improving life downstream.

During his presentation, Liggett will demonstrate how the new FlushAware demonstration website works. It is launching March 2 in conjunction with the presentation. He also will discuss solutions to Maui’s wastewater challenges, which he says can be found in the living life support system of the ʻĀina. 

Reef Power president Travis Liggett is launching a FlushAware app that informs users about the treatment level and destination of their Maui Island disposal method, while providing tools for activism and improving life downstream.
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“Native species such as stream limu, breadfruit and taro provide answers to our water waste woes,” he said. “Instead of nearshore injection, municipal discharges in Maui can be polished with turf scrubbers to reduce nutrient pollution using local freshwater algae. The wastewater can then be 100% reused as irrigation of native food agroforestry, pastureland and vetiver slope stabilization plantings to reduce sediment transport potential from mauka lands.”

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Liggett graduated from University of California at Berkeley with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on design in 1998, and from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering with a focus on life science in 2003.

In 2001, Liggett started work as a Research Assistant at  BioServe Space Technologies, a NASA Commercial Space Center located at CU Boulder, and continued his tenure working for the Agency as a Flight Systems Engineer for the Space Station Biological Research Project starting in 2003, then as an Aerospace Research Engineer focusing on functional prototype development of new life science technologies from 2005 – 2010 at  NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, located in California’s Silicon Valley.

On Maui, he has managed algae growth operations at Maui Tropical Algae Farm, and served as Principal Engineer for Water Quality Consulting, Inc., where he performed core duties including work on the Maui Ocean Center’s 2018 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit application.

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Liggett founded the small business Reef Power LLC in 2018 with the objective of bringing to Maui a natural regenerative reuse wastewater nutrient polishing system called a turf scrubber growing native Hawaiian stream limu (freshwater macroalgae), coupled with native food agroforest irrigation for disposal, instead of nearshore injection wells.

“Wastewater has a significant impact on Maui’s coral reefs and nearshore ocean water quality, whether you live in Kula or Kihei,” said Mike Fogarty, Executive Director of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. “The FlushAware App will contribute to our community’s growing awareness of the impacts of each and every flush – the first step in finding an answer to the question of how to manage our wastewater to protect our reefs and the ocean waters that surround our shores.”

The Know Your Ocean Speaker Series is hosted by Maui Nui Marine Resource Council on the first Wednesday of each month and is funded by the County of Maui Office of Climate Change, Resiliency and Sustainability and donations from individuals and businesses in the community. To learn more, visit www.mauireefs.org.

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