CORAL is excited to announce a new partnership with Skye Instruments, LLC to benefit our Clean Water for Reefs Initiative in Maui. Earlier this month, our team installed two weather stations in the Honokōwai and Wahikuli watersheds. Skye Instruments generously donated a weather station for each of the watersheds we are currently working on restoring in the Ka’anapali area of West Maui.
These two weather stations will provide CORAL with information on local weather conditions including temperature, wind speed and direction, rainfall, soil moisture and– best of all – are all powered with solar panels. The data generated by the weather stations will be remotely transmitted, allowing our Maui program to look at real-time weather conditions at our sites, plan watering schedules for native plants at our restoration sites based on local conditions and determine how these environmental factors are influencing the success of our restoration projects.
The data will also help us analyze the amount of rain that triggers sediment to mobilize across the landscape and cause “brown water” occurrences in coastal waters. Brown water advisories are issued by the Department of Health of Hawaiʻi when heavy rains cause flood waters that contain chemical runoff, sediment pollution and waste from overflowing cesspools. Last year alone, there were 167 Brown Water Advisories issued in West Maui. These events are harmful to people and corals, as the pollution from stormwater travels downstream and eventually settles on coral reefs, where it causes coral degradation and death.
Armed with the information from the new weather stations and the turbidity monitors installed near the mouth of Wahikuli and Honokōwai streams, CORAL will be able to investigate the correlation between rainfall, sediment accumulation at our restoration sites, stream turbidity and sediment accumulation on coral reefs. As the native plants we have planted at our restoration sites become established and more erosion control practices are installed, we aim to show that more sediment will be retained on the land. Ultimately, our streams and reefs will be cleaner due to our restoration sites and monitoring programs, and West Maui will have less brown water events in coastal waters, benefiting both people and coral reefs.