Rainfall & Drought

Climate change has brought about a change in rainfall patterns which is generally decreasing rain in formerly dry areas and increasing rainfall in the wet areas. We need to find ways to take advantage of these new patterns by capturing more of the rainfall and diverting it to the dryer areas.

Rainfall Issues

The Aquifers

Much of Hawaii's pristine fresh water comes from its volcanic stone aquifers. The increasing demands for water from Hawaii's increased population and tourist industry, combined with rising ocean levels have shrunk the supply of fresh water in the aquifers, particularly on Oahu.

Groundwater Issues

Rivers & Streams

The flow of fresh water streams and rivers in Hawaii have also significantly declined. At the same time, shrinking government funding has curtailed stream level tests and sampling so the decline is uncharted.

Rivers & Streams Issues

Water Conservation

Water conservation is the key to preserving Hawaii's dwindling freshwater supply. Many mainland cities have successfully used new methods of conservation as part of their future water plans. Water rates need to be utilized which encourage users that are conserving water at the same time as punishing water wasters.

Conservation Issues

News & Research

For Honolulu, Rising Seas Deliver Flood Risks Three Ways

OCT 2020/Brett Walton, Circle of Blue/ Build a wall? The biggest source of flooding linked to sea-level rise for Hawaii’s capital city comes not from the sea itself. It comes from underground. It seems like an intuitive response for protecting a coastal city from rising seas. Just raise your external defenses. But the intuitive response, in certain cases, is also the wrong response, says … Read More...

How Efforts To Save Hawaii’s Forests Are Preventing A ‘Freshwater Crisis’

Sept/ Civil Beat; Claire Caulfield. When Serene Smalley hikes into the Koolau mountains, her goal is to kill as many plants as possible. Armed with a machete and syringes full of herbicide earlier this summer, her sights were set on the mule’s foot fern: a giant Jurassic-looking plant. Smalley pulled out her cellphone, scrolling through a map app with hundreds of white pins. Each GPS marker … Read More...

Worsening drought forces state of emergency in Puerto Rico

(July/ Editor Comments:  This could happen in Hawaii!!  Puerto Rico is roughly 1/2 the size of all the Hawaiian islands combined with double the population.  Like Hawaii, Puerto Rico's options are pretty limited in a time of water scarcity although it is located closer to the mainland.) By DÁNICA COTO; SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor on Monday declared a state of emergency … Read More...

UH research essential in federal Clean Water Act ruling

June, Cindy Knapman/UH: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in April that the federal Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge of pollutants into the nation’s surface waters, including lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and coastal areas, must also consider pollutant inputs to those waters by groundwater. This ruling was based on scientific findings from researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi at … Read More...

US Supreme Court Rules Against Maui In Major Clean Water Case

April 2020, Civil Beat, Gruber. WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Maui County can’t skirt the Clean Water Act by merely pumping its sewage into groundwater before discharging it into the ocean. In a 6-3 opinion written by Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, the majority ruled that Maui County, like other municipalities and businesses dumping pollutants into the nation’s … Read More...