Hanalei Watershed Hui now official monitor of Hanalei Bay waters

For the first time in state history, state Department of Health officials have contracted with residents to check ocean and river water quality.

But for volunteers and staff of the Hanalei Watershed Hui, it will simply be a continuation of what they’ve already been doing on a voluntary basis.

Officials with the state Department of Health Clean Water Branch have contracted with leaders of the Hui to monitor waters of Hanalei Bay near the Hanalei pier and Hanalei Pavilion Beach Park, the Hanalei River at the end of Weke Road, where it meets the ocean, and Ha’ena Beach Park and Ke’e Beach in Ha’ena State Park.

This is the first partnership between members of a community-based organization and officials with the DOH Clean Water Branch, a DOH spokesperson said.

Hanalei Watershed Hui members’ involvement allows state officials to increase the number of beaches state officials monitor, and the frequency at which they are sampled, the DOH spokesperson said.

“The Hanalei Watershed Hui has demonstrated from their past activities that they possess the skills and expertise in conducting water-monitoring activities that satisfy the Department of Health and EPA requirements,” said Watson Okubo, head of the DOH Clean Water Monitoring Section.

“We are pleased that the Clean Water Branch was able to provide funds under the BEACH Act that will allow Hanalei Watershed Hui to continue with its monitoring program,” Okubo said.

The BEACH Act is the federal Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act of 2000, that provides federal funds for beach-monitoring and notification programs.

The Hanalei Watershed Hui is a nonprofit environmental organization that strives to protect the Ahupua’a of Hanalei, Wai’oli, Waipa, and Waikoko, said Makaala Kaaumoana, executive director.

For more information, please call 826-1985, e-mail hanaleiriver@hawaiian.net, or see the Web site, www.hanaleiwatershedhui.org.

Hui members’ motto is “e malama kumu wai,” or “protect the source.”

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