Pacific Southwest, Region 9
Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations
Hanalei River, Kaua’i, Hawai'i
In 2003, the Hanalei River Hui (Hui) received a $933,334 EPA-targeted watershed grant which included $233,334 in matching funds from the Hui and its watershed partners. With this funding, the Hui is developing best management practices (BMPs) to address sediment and wastewater problems, and conducting monitoring to assess the results. For more information, see the Hanalei Watershed Hui Web site .
Located on the north shore of the island of Kaua’i, in the State of Hawai’i, the Hanalei Watershed covers 24 square miles. Although the Hanalei River is one of Hawai’i’s largest rivers, it is only 16.2 miles long. The watershed is quite steep, extending from the coral reefs of Hanalei Bay to the 5,148-foot Mount Wai’ale’ale (which receives 476 inches of rain annually and is aptly named "overflowing water" in Hawaiian).
The Hanalei River Estuary and Bay are listed on Hawai’i’s 303(d) list of impaired waters because of turbidity, bacteria and nutrient pollution. Potential sources of sediment in the river include taro ponds, bird reserve ponds, landslides, as well as pigs and cattle. There is no centralized wastewater treatment plant in Hanalei, and the vast majority of the town uses cesspools and septic systems for sewage disposal, which may be contributing to the nutrient and bacteria loading in the River and Bay.
Watershed Projects funded by EPA
In 1998, the Hanalei River was designated an American Heritage River and received federal funding. The community used consensus-based decision making to develop a five-year Watershed Action Plan guided by the traditional Hawaiian Ahupua'a land management concept. A number of projects have already been successfully implemented, including extensive water quality monitoring by citizens. Most of the work is still done by volunteers with contributions from commercial and agricultural businesses.Under the Targeted Watershed grant, the Hui is implementing the following activities:
Sediment Control: In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, check gates are being installed at the outlets of taro ponds, retaining sediment. The Waipa Foundation and the University of Hawai'i are helping with experimental exclusion fencing to keep livestock and feral ungulates away from the river.
Wastewater Treatment: The Hui has contacted a dozen residents who live adjacent to the river and bay with an offer to replace their cesspools with septic systems. The County of Kaua’i is in the process of upgrading its cesspools and septic systems at three County beach parks in the watershed. Numerous community meetings have been held to develop a strategy for a centralized wastewater treatment system, in addition to discussing monitoring results and other aspects of the watershed project.
Monitoring and Evaluation: To establish baseline conditions and gauge the affects of the BMPs, monitoring is being conducted for turbidity, suspended sediment, bacteria, nutrients, and other water quality parameters. Coral recruitment, benthic habitat, and fish surveys are also being conducted by the University of Hawai’i and volunteers to assess the health of the bay and river. To determine if alien species are contributing to soil erosion and landslides in the upper watershed, the U.S. Geological Survey is mapping vegetation in the upper watershed.
Additional Watershed Projects and Partnerships
- Long-term monitoring of the Hawaiian Gobie (O’opu) as an indicator of stream health (funded by the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Waipa Foundation)
- Watershed educational forums. Fifty educational segments have been produced and aired on Kauai public access television (funded by Gerbode Foundation)
- Invasive species removal study and removal of Hau trees (funded by NOAA)
- Fishery survey of Hanalei Bay and fishpond restoration (funded by NOAA)
- Development of total maximum daily loads for turbidity, bacteria and nutrients by Hawaii Department of Health
- The Hanalei Watershed is part of a larger area selected to receive support under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Security Program. This program is designed to reward farmers for going above and beyond in resource conservation.
- The Hanalei Watershed is one of three priority watersheds in the State of Hawai’i selected for development of local action strategies to address land-based pollution impacts on coral reefs. This is part of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force’s efforts to address critical threats to and protect coral reefs in the United States. (Participation by multiple State and Federal agencies, including NOAA, USDA’s NRCS, Hawai’i DLNR)
- In recognition of the Hui’s ability to bring numerous agencies and groups together to work on watershed problems, the Hui recently received an outstanding management award from the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force.
Grant Project Officer
Shannon FitzGerald (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Local Hawai'i Contact
Wendy Wiltse (email@example.com)
|Pacific Southwest NewsroomPacific Southwest Programs||Grants & FundingUS-Mexico Border||Media CenterCareers||About EPA Pacific SouthwestA-Z Index|