13 May 2016, By Burt Lum, Civil Beat
You won’t find any argument among scientists, policy makers and the general public that fresh water is an extremely important natural resource.
I would argue that clean water is more important than oil, right up there next to clean air. And in Hawaii, we are especially blessed with some of the best water in the world.
Barry Usagawa, the administrator of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply’s Water Resource Program, told me, “Oahu’s drinking water quality is one of the best in the nation. Our fresh water comes from basal groundwater that is naturally purified, has high clarity and low mineral content, (is) very stable and needs very little treatment. Oahu’s drinking water is as nature provides it to us.”
Our mauka forests and volcanic soil are well suited as a filtration system for rainwater, as it seeps through to underground freshwater aquifers. This process is slow, taking about 25 years for the rain water to journey through the mountain to form pools, or lenses, on top of salt water pools.
The added salts and minerals in ocean water makes it denser than fresh water, enabling fresh water to float on top of the salt water. That is why it is much easier to swim, float and tread water in the ocean than in a pool. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply pumps the water from these aquifers and distributes it to communities on Oahu.
I, for one, take a lot of this for granted. Turn on the faucet and out comes fresh, clean, spring-like water. The water from my home’s tap tastes like bottled water, so I rarely buy it unless I am prepping for hurricane season. I hardly give our fresh water a second thought and always expect it to be there. But water is a very precious natural commodity.
The National Science Foundation recognized this and awarded the University of Hawaii a five-year, $20 million grant to study the freshwater aquifers. This grant is part of the foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.
See the rest of the column here