KAILUA-KONA — The National Park Service didn’t provide a requested gallon figure for how much water it needs at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park to sustain its ecosystems and the cultural practices that surround them. But the Park Service did bring the state Commission on Water Resource Management up to speed Thursday on the species that it feels would be threatened by any changes in water salinity due to future pumping of the Keauhou aquifer, which drains to the sea beneath it.
Striped mullet, the damselfly — a candidate for listing under the endangered species act — and rare water birds could all lose habitat if salinity in ponds changes, hydrologist Paula Cutillo said.
The park is experiencing saltwater intrusion, declining rainfall and increased contaminants, Cutillo said.
“Preserving freshwater flows is a natural defense against these changes,” she said.
The National Park Service in 2013 petitioned to designated the aquifer a state water management area, saying that the county does not have adequate controls over pumping to assure that the supply is not over-taxed. The county, lawmakers up to the federal level and local businesses have strongly opposed the designation, saying the aquifer uses are well below its sustained yield, and that adding the extra layer of state red tape isn’t warranted.
Last year, CWRM asked the park to be more specific about its water needs. NPS hydrologists stated at the time that the fishponds and nearshore reefs simply needed all of the water they were currently getting.
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