Within the completed Watershed Management Strategies Plans for all five R2R watersheds, priorities and strategies are identified to guide on-the-ground projects. Project updates will be shared on this page, so please check back periodically.
Ongoing Pollution Reduction Projects- 2024
Protecting Kaʻōpala’s critical coastal infrastructure through multi-functional, nature-based flood management design
Through implementation of innovative flood management practices on one of the few remaining undeveloped parcels at the bottom of the Kaʻōpala sub watershed, coastal resilience for the community will be enhanced and a model provided for a “green” flood mitigation option that delivers both community and environmental benefits. Horsley Witten Group is leading this NFWF funded effort to develop an impactful and community-forward design. This requires additional site assessment work, analysis of physical conditions of the area, and consultation with the stakeholders already invested in pursuing solutions to protect vulnerable infrastructure. Three design concepts will be developed and evaluated by stakeholders. The concept that yields the most benefits for flood mitigation, water quality improvements, habitat protection, community amenity use as compared to cost and maintenance will be developed to a 60% engineering design that can be ushered to the permitting and final design phase. This project need has been identified as a high priority by the many agencies involved in watershed management planning in West Maui, the County of Maui DPW responsible for maintaining the road and infrastructure, and the immediate community impacted during coastal flooding.
Enhancing the Effectiveness of Restoration in Honokōwai and Kapunakea Preserve
Ridge to Reefs is working with the Nature Conservancy, CORAL and other partners to improve on practices in Honokowai watershed to improve infiltration of stormwater and reduce soil erosion from dirt roads. This involves removing invasive tree species from select areas, installing vetiver sediment traps in hydrologically connected road kick-outs and piloting the use of field tools to reduce soil compaction. This is funded by NOAA CRCP and will run from Jan.2020- August 2021.
BMPs for Improved Water Quality
Pu`u Kukui Watershed Preserve of Maui Land and Pineapple Co. is installing a series of best management practices across the landscape under their management for better water quality outcomes. These include stabilizing fill terrace areas, reforesting a former pineapple field, hydromulching with native seed for erosion control, restoring lo`i kalo (taro patches) in mid-elevation Honolua stream and completing sections of conservation boundary fencing. This work was funded by Hawaii Department of Health 319 program and will take place over three years.
Wahikuli Watershed Road Closure
The Coral Reef Alliance is working to turn off a continuous source of erosion during rain events on stretch of unmaintained farm road bordering Hāhākea Gulch. By deploying a series of best management practices along the former road and connected field area, and then planting native plants, the area will begin to stabilize.
This work was funded by Hawaii Department of Health 319 program and will take place over three years. Check out their Story Map to learn about the practices used to date.
Ungulate Fencing in the Upper Watershed
Keeping the upper watershed clear of wild boar and deer is critical to maintaining a vegetative cover. If animals can gain access, their digging speeds up erosion, which washes silt and nutrients downstream, choking our nearshore reefs, allow with other concerns. The DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife is working with the Mauna Kahalawai Watershed Partnership and the Pu`u Kukui Watershed Preserve to extend the fencing to exclude deer, and increase the distance of continuous fencing. This is funded by the State Department of Health.
Gulch Restoration to Increase Reef Resilience
With funding from the NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program, the Coral Reef Alliance and partners will be installing ~25 Best Management Practices (BMPs) within the Wahikuli watershed targeting sources of sediment pollution to Wahikuli Stream, which flows into the ocean at 'Canoe Beach' in West Maui. BMPs will include vetiver grass and native plant sediment traps to capture entrained sediment in stormwater runoff, plantings to stabilize erosive hotspots primarily along old agricultural roads and stream banks. The ultimate goal of the project is to reduce stormwater pollution entering the ocean at Canoe Beach and thereby reduce the negative impacts associated with poor water quality to human health and the health of coral reefs in the vicinity.
Pollution Reduction Projects 2019/20
Kahana Nui Basin Capacity Restoration
Kahana Nui basin is located a short distance from the ocean up- current from priority coral reef area and receives runoff from the watershed shown to have the largest sediment export capacity in the study area. This project directed by the West Maui Soil and Water Conservation District and in partnership with Maui Land and Pineapple Co. will assist the County of Maui in overcoming the challenge of removing accumulated sediment from the dam historically hampered by the buried outlet pipes not being located or opened in order to allow the basin to dry out. In order to restore the capacity of the basin, the basin was de-watered, outlet pipes located and the years of accumulated sediment removed. Truth Excavation was contracted to clear the value and remove some sediment, the balance of which will be removed by the County. Once the clean-out is complete, the restored basin capacity would be sufficient to allow sediment to settle out from the one and two-year storms which have been shown to be the most problematic for coral health. The project was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and ran from Aug. 2018 to April 2020.
Pollution Reduction Projects 2017- 2019
Floating Wetland in Kā‘anapali Lagoon
This project included the design, fabrication and installation of two floating wetlands to uptake nutrients concentrating in a resort lagoon in West Maui. It is situated between the outlet pipe that delivers polluted runoff from the surrounding area, and the channel that connects to the ocean. One of the healthiest tracts of reef in the area is located just downstream. Past water quality monitoring of the lagoon and underground drainage system have shown elevated nitrogen concentrations. In addition to physical removal of a known pollutants, a secondary objective is raising awareness about the declining state of coral reefs and the role of managing land-based pollution for mitigating decline. This was accomplished by working closely with resort staff in the design and installation of the wetland, as well as installing interpretive signage visible to golfers and visitors explaining the fragility of nearshore ecosystems and the floating wetland’s role in removing pollutants. Water quality monitoring in the life of the project did not demonstrate a nutrient reduction, likely due to the limited period of sampling and intense flushing in the waterway. Roth Ecological led this project working closely with Kā'anapali Operators Association. It was funded by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Honokōwai Structure #8 Design Retrofit for Fine Sediment Retention
Building on the original analysis completed by UH, Ridge to Reefs worked with the County of Maui, Department of Public Works to develop a design for retrofitting the debris basin so that more sediment may settle out from smaller storms, improving coastal water quality. The final design included an adjustable sluice gate to close portals of the front of the structure allowing for adjustments as needed to accommodate large storms and maintenance needs. This effort is funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Full engineering design, permitting and construction are the next phases needed to actualize the design.
Best Management Practices for Erosion & Nutrient Reduction
Ridge to Reefs is leading an effort funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to stabilize bare soil areas and runoff conveyance areas from dirt roads using vetiver grass and native species to trap soils before they enter the gulch and are transported out to the coral reefs in West Maui. In addition, practices to reduce nutrient movement to the ocean will also be piloted, such as the nutrient curtain pictured above in Kaanapali Golf Course. This trench which intercepts the groundwater lens is back-filled with biochar, wood chips, sawdust, sand and soil creates an anoxic environment for denitrification to occur.
Low Impact Design for Local Engineers
Low impact development is a nature-based approach to managing stormwater runoff as part of green infrastructure. LID emphasizes conservation and use of on-site natural features to protect water quality. Maui Environmental Consulting led a training for the county and relevant professionals to increase awareness about the types of practices, application, challenges and permitting requirements for this approach. The project was funded by DLNR DAR/NOAA.
Facilities Storm Water Management
Project S.E.A.-Link worked with three properties to improve storm water treatment in their baseyards. This project funded through DAR/NOAA includes the Kaanapali Golf Course and the Kaanapali Operators Association. These properties have taken steps, such as moving wash-down areas, installing drain protecting barriers and creating bio-retention areas to reduce the amount of potential pollutants moving from their work areas to the storm drain system, and therefore ocean. A workshop held in August 2018, allowed other properties managers to learn about these cost effective measures to reduce pollution and hopefully inspire broader actions.
Low Impact Design for Managing Stormwater
The Coral Reef Alliance worked to raise capacity in West Maui in the understanding and use of Low Impact Designs (LIDs) as a means to manage and treat urban stormwater. In partnering with Ka`anapali Operators Association and the Department of Public Works, two bio-retention areas have been installed to treat water from known problem areas. Awareness of these practices was shared through a workshop in the summer and participating in an MS4 training in the fall of 2018.
Planting Road Kick-outs to Retain Sediment
This project lead by CORAL and funded by NOAA CRCP represents a chance to mitigate a source of sediment delivery to the ocean within an area identified as highly prone to sediment transport, and collect valuable data on the efficacy of vetiver sediment traps used in this context. By planting vetiver eyebrows in the extensions off of steep agricultural road designed to remove water and sediment in rain events, called kick-outs, the planted rows intercept and slow the water, leading to large quantities of fine dirt being stopped and stored higher up in the watershed.
Community-Based Social Marketing Strategies to Address Polluted Storm-water Runoff
By engaging the community in storm drain stenciling, Project S.E.A.-Link is not only activating volunteers in creating durable reminders to keep pollution out of our waters, but also creates an mechanism to solicit broader behavioral changes, such as adopting Ocean Friendly Landscaping and Property pledges developed through West Maui Kumuwai. More than 100 drains were stenciled with the help of dozens of volunteers. This project was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Vetiver as a Soil Stabilization Tool
Ridge to Reefs with a grant from NFWF is developing practices that include the establishment of vetiver grass plantings and native plants to intercept the flow of sediments in the water running through gulches and bordering terraces in the reaches above designated priority coral reef ecosystems. The first pilot plantings were installed in Wahikuli watershed in November 2016 and the second in Feb. 2017.
Pollution Reduction Projects 2015/16
Agricultural District Erosion Control: Assessment and Installation
Sustainable Resources Group Intn’l, Inc. (SRGII) worked with the State of Hawai‘i and private landowners, primarily the Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc. (MLP), to install BMPs on severely eroding roads in the agricultural region. Effectiveness monitoring was conducted to quantify the reduction in NPSP-loading.
The monitoring results show 57 tons (142,500 cubic yards) of sediment was trapped and erosion was curtailed on 480 acres. Land owners were provided an Operation and Maintenance Plan to guide future maintenance of the installed BMPs. This project was funded by State Department of Health 319 funds from the EPA.
Ocean Friendly Properties and Landscapes
Project S.E.A. Link, with funding from DAR/NOAA has been conducting walking assessments of the properties in the Honokowai area to gain an understanding of which appear to have more pollution potential with landscaping and housekeeping practices. Thirteen properties received information on best management practices for ocean preferred properties/landscapers. Eight condo properties signed on to the newly developed Ocean-Friendly Property Pledge commitment and have received positive PR and inclusion in a building movement for ocean health through West Maui Kumuwai. Six new landscaping companies have joined the Ocean-Friendly Landscaper program.
Post-Fire Supply Procurement
Through the West Maui Soil and Water Conservation District in partnership with Pu`u Kukui Watershed Preserve, DAR/NOAA funding enabled the collection and storage of native seeds, along with the purchase and testing of a hydro-mulch machine that will allow broadcast seeding of native plants following fire. These supplies are the first step to a rapid response to highly erosive, post-wildfire conditions. An estimated 500,000 a`alii seeds were collected, sorted and stored, along with smaller quantities of ohia and koa seeds.
Pollution Reduction Projects- 2014
Urban Area Analysis and Low Impact Design (LID) Recommendations for Honokōwai: contractor Horsley Witten Group with funding from the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program has developed a mini-watershed plan and LID recommendations for Honokōwai in the area surrounding the Beach Park. These practices once installed, will help to reduce the volume of polluted run-off currently exported from this heavily urbanized area. Download the full plan below.
Rain Gardens at Pohaku (S-turns) Beach Park: Surfrider Foundation, Maui Chapter designed and installed two small rain gardens to treat parking lot and shower run off. Installation was held Sept.6th, 2014 and included ~40 volunteers. Interpretive signage has been installed to explain the purpose of the practice to park visitors. Funding was provided by DLNR DAR/NOAA.
Pilot Agricultural Road Erosion Reduction Improvements: under the leadership of the West Maui Soil and Water Conservation District, ~3.5 miles of two rapidly eroding stretches of mauka-makai roads were improved with best management practices (BMPs) in this pilot project to reduce the volume of sediment migrating down the watershed following rain events. Using heavy equipment, water bars where added and terraces were opened to dissipate energy and allow water and sediment to dissipate into the field away from the gulch. DHHL and General Finance Group were partners in this project along with local contractors. Funding was provided by DLNR DAR/NOAA.
Reef Friendly Landscape Management plans
In southern Kā‘anapali, Landscape designers Ki Concepts worked with 7 resort properties to tighten chemical applications in landscaping to reduce runoff to coastal ecosystems through site specific management plans. Participating properties included the Hyatt, Westin Maui Spa & Resort, KOA, the Marriot Maui Ocean Club, Whalers Village, SGS Landscaping (who works with Westin KOR and Honua Kai) and Aston Maui Kā‘anapali Villas. In addition to analysis for each property, another outcome is a checklist to guide other properties towards ocean friendly practices (below). Three new properties took the pledge to be Ocean-Friendly Landscapes through our sister West Maui Kumuwai Campaign. Funding was provided by DLNR DAR/NOAA.
Post-fire rehabilitation planning
Hawaii Wildfire Management organization has created a plan in cooperation with landowners and fire management professionals to address preparation for a rapid response following a fire to reduce mass erosion on newly burned land. In addition, they authored a Western Maui Community Wildfire Protection Plan which assesses fire risk by neighborhood, proposed measures for prevention, and makes the West Maui community eligible for federal grants if a fire does occur. Funding was provided by DLNR DAR/NOAA.
Curb Inlet Basket Pilot in Kā‘anapali
SRGII, an environmental consulting firm led this project where seven debris and pollutant screening baskets were installed in the storm drain system by Kā‘anapali Operators Assoc. Ongoing monitoring is taking place to test maintenance time and volume of debris removal to inform expanding installations to other coastal areas. Funding was provided by DLNR DAR/NOAA.
Design analysis for Dam Retrofit
A detailed analysis of the physical systems related to Honokōwai Dam is needed as a first step to understanding if retrofit measures that would reduce the movement of fine particles into the ocean following rainfall are viable. A team of professors and graduate students from the University of Hawaii headed up this study, which included watershed and sediment modeling. Additional modeling is needed to determine if a retrofit is possible, and a refinement of retrofit ideas is needed that address maintenance considerations. Funding was provided by DLNR DAR/NOAA.
Featured Completed Community Projects Needing Ongoing Volunteer Care!
Native Planting to Stabilize Slope
A bare roadside hill in Hanakaʻōʻō Cemetery that once sent red dust into the air and red water into the ocean is now home to more than 1000 native plants, thanks to scores of volunteers that came out to make a difference for West Maui on Sunday, June 9th. The plantings are intended to both beautify the historic site and to stabilize the hillside in order to reduce the amount of runoff reaching the ocean via Wahikuli Gulch.
The planting event also launched the West Maui Kumuwai campaign, which is a movement to protect our ocean through personal action and community collaboration. The campaign is built on the belief that “If we each do a little, we can all do a lot,” and asks residents to make simple choices at home or in their yard that will benefit the health of the ocean. For more information and photos, check out West Maui Kumuwai on Facebook.
Mahalo to our partners and sponsors who made this project possible: Parsons, KOA, Convergent Conservation, Tri-Isle RC&D, DLNR Dept. of Aquatic Resources, CJ's Deli and Diner, ISI, Native Nursery, Maui Nui Botanical Garden, Service Rentals Plus, County of Maui, Community Work Day
Demonstration Rain Garden and Community Training, March 2013
Over 70 community members participated in the installation and associated training for a demonstration rain garden in Wahikuli Wayside Park March 15th and 16th, 2013.
A rain garden is an intentionally created flat bottom depression planted with natives positioned to receive, treat and infiltrate runoff from impervious surfaces, in this case, shower and parking lot runoff. This garden provides a visible example of a low impact design practice that homeowners or business can implement with minimal expense and time.
Rain Garden Training March 15-16, 2013
Special thanks to our rain garden partners
Mahalo to County of Maui Parks, Public Works and Planning Departments, Parsons, SCS Consulting, CJ’s Deli and Maui Nui Marine Resource Council for the generous contributions.
The design, technical expertise and materials were provided through a NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program grant. NOAA is a key partner in the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative and funded and managed the Wahikuli-Honokowai Watershed Management Plan which identifies rain gardens as a priority practice for meeting the Initiative goal of addressing land based pollution to reduce stress on coral reefs.
Planting plan including native plant names for download below