28 March 2015, By Bret Yager, West Hawaii Today
The state Commission on Water Resource Management is chiefly concerned with how much water is available and how those quantities should be managed.
But West Hawaii residents are just as worried about threats to water quality, judging from a scoping meeting held by CWRM in Kailua-Kona on Tuesday evening.
Residents expressed concern about the lack of information on just how much of the precious resource is available under the surface. How to keep pesticides and sewage pollution out of drinking water, and how to make management decisions based on incomplete science — but with significant human impacts — were other issues raised by about 70 people who packed a workshop with CWRM at the West Hawaii Civic Center.
The input was designed to help CWRM draft a Water Resource Protection Plan update that will focus on better assessment of the water available around the state, water shortage planning, water conservation and improved monitoring data. The last update was in 2008.
Water Program Manager Roy Hardy acknowledged that data on water volume is limited and better reporting on well pumping is needed. But statistics already available from stream gauges statewide point to declining flows likely because of climate change, he said.
“All of the stream levels are going down,” he said. “That’s an issue we’re looking at.”
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A summary of the Water Resource Protection Plan Update can be found at files.hawaii.gov/dlnr/cwrm/planning/wrpp2014update/WRPP-2014UpdateFactSheet.pdf.
A water workshop will be held in Hilo from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday (30 March) at the Aupuni Center.
Public hearings on the draft water management plan will follow the release of the public draft in late 2015 or 2016.