Microbial research to be presented at MNMRCM

Neil Rhoads will be presenting at the Maui Nui Marine Resource Council on Wednesday, February 1 2017, 5-7pm at Pacific Whale Foundation, Ma’alaea.

Guest Presentation:

As a follow-up to their recent paper analyzing DOH data for nutrient impairment in Maui coastal waters, Neil Rhoads will be showing some preliminary results for their forthcoming paper. The data spans 28 years and includes 20-30 sites from each of West Maui, South Maui, and North Shore Maui. Interesting patterns are starting to emerge, and they may not be what you expect!

KCA raising funds for microbial paper

Kihei Community Association is raising funds to sponsor the follow-up paper on Maui Water Quality, an Assessment of Microbiological Data.

The recent news on pollutants in the ocean water we love is shocking, but we still don’t know which areas are unsafe to swim in or if they are getting better or worse.

Let’s get the data analyzed!

We have scientists ready to process the ocean samples collected by the
Department of Health. We need your help to make it happen. Your tax-
deductible donation to the KCA Water Quality Study will help get us there.

KCA Announcement

Neil Rhoads will be speaking at the first KCA meeting of the year on January 17, 2017, at 6:30:

  • … Our finale is scientific researcher Neil Rhoads to offer a first hand update on the KCA-sponsored research project to determine the quality of our marine waters that Neil and his research partner Mailea Miller-Pierce have begun.
  • This will be the first study addressing the effect of the near shore water condition on HUMAN health. (Have you donated?)


Community and experts collaborate to find solutions to water pollution

Community members, Maui County reps, environmental organizations, State and Federal agencies participated in a Saving Our Reefs: Pollution Solutions workshop offered by Maui Nui Marine Resource Council to address impaired water quality in Maui County. The purpose of the workshop was to consider new information regarding water quality in South Maui as it relates to coral reefs and other marine organisms, to understand impacts of degraded water quality to marine life, to clearly understand the problem, consider solutions, and develop recommendations.

The workshop was prompted by a recently published scientific paper, The influence of wastewater discharge on water quality in Hawai’i: A comparative study for Lahaina and Kihei, Maui, presented at the workshop by its authors, Mailea Miller-Pierce and Neil Rhoads. (wq.ecooak.org) Using data collected by Hawaii State Department of Health they compared water quality in Kihei and Lahaina and noted decreased water quality in the proximity of injection wells.

Other speakers included Dr. Eric Brown, National Park Service, who explained the impact of wastewater on coral reef ecosystems, particularly the ability for coral to spawn and for larva to survive. Dr. Daniel Amato, UHM, linked land use to coral reef health in Hawaii with an emphasis on the hydrological processes, which influence reef ecology. Steve Parabicoli, retired Superintendent of Maui County’s Wastewater Reclamation Division, provided a compelling overview of Kihei’s wastewater treatment facility. The workshop program  includes the abstract of each presentation and short presenter biographies.

With Hawaii State Department of Health data indicating that there are more impaired waters on Maui than any other island in the State, there is an urgent need to better understand the impact of wastewater and land-based pollutants to our reefs, and to improve water quality standards and monitoring efforts. The workshop attendees worked together to define the problem, develop a list of possible solutions and a set of recommendations for actions including:

  1. Conduct a feasibility study of best practices from around the world for treatment and use of wastewater, with associated costs. Determine the best fit for Maui and then make recommendations to the County of Maui.
  2. Identify the various sources of pollution to our reefs (wastewater, groundwater, stormwater, construction runoff, etc.) and the amount they’re contributing both in volume and in impact to the reefs.
  3. Reduce nutrient levels in the water through enhanced regulations, including increased water quality monitoring and improved thresholds.
  4. Mobilize the community, visitor industry, county and state in efforts to improve water quality.

The workshop was attended by a broad base of Maui residents and was led by the Maui Nui Marine Resource Council (MNMRC) and members of MNMRC’s Maui Coral Reef Recovery Team. The MNMRC will work through its Clean Water Committee and with its partners to initiate and support efforts to improve water quality on Maui. Volunteers for a citizen scientist water quality monitoring program are currently being recruited and trained. Contact the MNMRC for more information on how to become a water quality monitor in your area.

Maui Time’s Anthony Pignataro continues for follow the story in a recent column: Maui Nui Marine Resource Council hosting all-day workshop on Kihei water quality

Comments and Criticisms on the Maui Time Article

There were many supporting comments posted about the MauiTime article, plus one insightful constructive criticism. The MauiTime editor Anthony Pignataro requested a response from Mailea Miller-Pierce and Neil Rhoads and posted their reply to the newspapers website at Kihei marine pollution researchers respond to reader criticism following MauiTime story.

Anthony Pignataro writes “On Mar. 17, reader Deren Ash posted a complex comment on the MauiTime Facebook page to my Mar. 16 cover story “The County of Maui is already in hot water over sewage in the ocean off West Maui, but a new study says that the Kihei coast is far worse.” The story detailed recent study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin concerning the possibility that treated sewage injected into the ground at the Kihei Wastewater Reclamation Facility was migrating to near shore waters, specifically around Cove Park and Kalama Beach, and potentially killing coral there. Specifically, Ash found fault with the notion that the injection wells were a source of the pollution found in ocean off Kihei.

read more

Maui Time Features Our Study

Today, Maui Time’s feature article covers our study and includes an interview with Mailea Miller-Pierce!

The County of Maui is already in hot water over sewage in the ocean off West Maui, but a new study says that the Kihei coast is far worse written by Anthony Pignatoro.

The County of Maui’s violation of the Clean Water Act by discharging millions of gallons of wastewater into injection wells in West Maui is widely known. The judge’s ruling came in 2014, two years after environmental organizations filed suit, alleging that the injection wells were significantly harming coral reefs in the Lahaina area–most notably, at Honolua Bay and Kahekili Beach (Old Airport Beach). In fact, studies have shown that coral at Honolua has decreased by an astonishing 76 percent since 1995, while other research has shown that because of freshwater seeps just offshore of Kahekili, a great deal of wastewater floats to the surface at that beach, which is very popular with locals and tourists alike.

What hasn’t gotten so much attention is that the county also uses injection wells at its wastewater treatment facilities in Kahului and Kihei–and a new study published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin shows that the South Maui waste plume dwarfs anything found in West Maui.

“Focus on the Lahaina facility has brought a lot of attention to the ecological and environmental issues going on in West Maui, which is positive, but after we looked at these data, we were blown away at how much higher the impairments are near Kihei,” said study co-author Mailea Miller-Pierce in a Feb. 25 news release on her new journal article. “When looking at these results, it is shocking that so little attention has been paid to Kihei. Hopefully some of the focus will shift in the near future.”

Maui Water Quality Comparative Study Published

In our recent scientific paper, The influence of wastewater discharge on water quality in Hawai’i: A comparative study for Lahaina and Kihei, Maui by Mailea Miller-Pierce and Neil A. Rhoads,  we chose to focus on a subset of the available data, limiting our analysis to the western shores of Maui during years with sufficient data collection for the most important nutrients.

The paper is published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin 103 (2016) pp. 54-62 REF: doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.12.047

We summarize our findings, provide interactive access to the data in addition to an interactive map, and easy access to the appendices, and supplementary information at the website below:

Maui Water Quality, a Comparative Study for Lahaina and Kihei