Hanalei Bay Watershed meeting next week

HANALEI — The Hanalei Watershed Hui is inviting the public to a  June 6 meeting to address what is going on with Hanalei Bay Watershed. In addition, the hui is reminding the public the Hanalei Watershed Management Plan is ready for review and comment.

The June 6 community meeting will feature Andy Hood of Sustainable Resources Group, who will provide more information on Hanalei’s water quality. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Hale Halawai ‘Ohana O Hanalei.

In addition to the June 6 meeting, on Saturday, Alan Friedlander and Eric Brown will be at Blackpot Beach Park at 6 p.m. to talk about the Coral Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program in Hanalei.

Scientists from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa have been studying the reefs, quantitatively monitoring corals and fish populations of Hanalei Bay for 20 years, making the bay one of the best studied tropical estuaries, according to Hanalei Watershed Hui, a nonprofit organization that cares for the ahupu‘a of Hanalei, Waioli, Waipa and Waikoko.

The Hanalei Bay Watershed includes the ahupu‘a of Waikoko, Waipa, Wai‘oli and Hanalei.

A watershed is an area of land, extending mauka to makai, with a common outlet to the ocean. Rainfall “sheds” off the land and into rivers and the Bay. Some rainfall is stored as a “shed” stores tools.

Debris such as trees and rocks generated from Hurricane Iniki in 1992 moved down the Hanalei River in the floods of 1995-96, causing the river to jump its bank and form a new channel. The irrigation intake and ‘auwai that deliver water to some Hanalei farmers do not work well after a flood because rocks move, forcing the water down the new channel, which bypasses the intake pipe.

Pollutants of concern include turbidity, nutrients and bacteria that can come from fertilizers, sewage discharges and green waste from farming and landscaping, or waste from warm-blooded animals such as pigs or humans.

Long-term residents of Hanalei remember times when the river was wide and clean and, in more recent decades, when sandbars were extensive and closed off the mouth so much that it had to excavated.

With global climate change, scientists say we can expect many more extreme weather events, like the last one in early March, which will forever alter the estuary and coral reefs of Hanalei.

Last year, late rains in the summer of 2011 delivered valley mud to the bay. There was no summer swell to move this mud out to sea. Some coral die-off was observed.

Warming oceans cause acidification, which also causes some coral death.

Land use practices in Hanalei Valley did not use filters and screens to prevent mud flow. Residents need to be vigilant about degradation from poor land use practices, activists warn.

On the other hand, projects have been done by local farmers, scientists and engineers to reduce sediment, bacteria and nutrient pollution entering the bay.

Anyone who has seen activity that might be a concern should contact Gary Ueunten from the state Department of Health at 241-3323; Les Milnes, from the county Coastal Zone Management at 241-4064; or Makaala Kaaumoana from Hanalei Watershed Hui at 826-1985.

Hanalei Watershed Management Plan

A Watershed Management Plan for Hanalei is being developed, targeting planning efforts to improve Hanalei’s watersheds, streams and rivers, nearshore waters and coral reefs.

The plan summarizes general watershed conditions with an emphasis on identifying the sources, transmission and fate of land-based non-point source pollutants.

Using this information, management strategies are recommended for preventing and treating pollutants.

The plan identifies locations for management practice implementation and prioritizes installation based on potential effectiveness and relative cost. Monitoring protocols help determine how well the solutions are working.

Stakeholder involvement is essential in developing and implementing the plan, and details on activities to engage the local community in efforts to reduce pollution are identified. The plan supports activities designed to achieve Total Maximum Daily Loads that have been developed for the area.

Improving Hanalei’s water quality

There are a few things people can to improve the water quality in Hanalei, including planting native plants, volunteering with efforts to restore forests, using best management practices when digging or working on the land, replacing cesspools or servicing septic tanks. Here are some suggestions:

•  Do not over-fertilize a garden, lo’i or farm. Read and follow package directions.

•  Compost and mulch all green waste. Do not blow or wash green waste into storm drains.

•  Report any land use practices that do not incorporate best management practices.

•  Support efforts to monitor lands and waters, including enforcement.

Visit www.hanaleiwatershedhui.org for more information.

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