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Global warming will stress Hawaii's fresh water

By Audrey McAvoy

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 04:27 p.m. HST, May 06, 2014

William Aila remembers seeing streams flowing with water every winter as a teenager growing up in Waianae.

Now, the 56-year-old chairman of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources only sees water in these streams after it's rained particularly hard. He said this means his grandchildren aren't able to see oopu, a native fish that lives in streams.

"Climate change is here and we have to deal with it," Aila said Tuesday at an event discussing the Hawaii and Pacific island portion of the latest national report on global warming.

"If we don't, our children and grandchildren are going to see less and less of what Hawaii is, less and less of what Hawaii stands for and less and less of what Hawaii needs to be," Aila said.

Aila's anecdotal observations are consistent with data scientists present in the National Climate Assessment, which shows average rainfall and stream flows in Hawaii have been declining for nearly a century.

The trend is expected to continue, said University of Hawaii Professor Thomas Giambelluca, one of the scientists who contributed to the report, as drier parts of the state get less rain.

This will boost demand for water as the drier parts of Hawaii are where most people live and grow crops, he said. A growing population will only add to the greater demand for water, he said.

The state's fresh water supply, meanwhile, will be pressured as sea levels push salt water into aquifers that store the state's drinking water. A drop in rainfall will also mean less recharging of these aquifers.

This is more of a slow-moving disaster than a dramatic giant storm, said Victoria Keener, a research fellow at the East-West Center who moderated a discussion on the report at the East-West Center in Honolulu.

The report also mentions threats to coral reefs, fisheries, coastal ecosystems and agriculture.

The Pacific tuna fishery is one industry predicted to suffer as temperatures rise.

"What the climate assessment is trying to say is that we have to start taking adaptation action now to be able to combat this so we aren't too negatively impacted by effects of sea level rise and precipitation changes and storm patterns," Keener said.

Aila said his department's push to restore forests by removing invasive weeds and keeping out pigs and other feral animals that dig up plants is one way the state is attempting to deal with the changes that are coming. Healthy forests are critical for water supplies because they soak up and store rain and cloud moisture like sponges.

Efforts to protect coral reefs, meanwhile, he said, would not only help coral and fish but also shield harbors and coastlines from waves. The state is creating a coral nursery to conduct research on corals that might be able to withstand rising temperatures, he said.

Aila hailed a bill the Legislature passed earlier this month giving the department funds to develop strategies for coping with coastal erosion and changing coastlines.

He said the state needs to be ready to "run with" innovative programs.

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false wrote:
Time to start building more lakes in Hawaii. More lakes, more cat fishing. Water and food.
on May 6,2014 | 06:44AM
richierich wrote:
While we are at it lets open up fishing again at Nuuanu Reservoir.
on May 6,2014 | 10:58AM
Coldwater wrote:
was there an article about water that was diverted to a sugar plantation re-diverted back to a Leeward stream? Did it not say that it help replenish the aquifer?
on May 7,2014 | 12:00AM
pcman wrote:
Technology will allow us to obtain fresh water from the bottom of the ocean at very low cost for eternity. Desalinization is another option that could produce cheaper water for irrigation and and non-drinking. At a little higher cost, desalination can produce fresh water for drinking, cooking, etc, like on submarines, ships and aircraft carriers.
on May 6,2014 | 06:56AM
PMINZ wrote:
"very Low cost"?? my rough costing figures Deep Sea Water to be around $15 to $20 per Gallon. That is more expensive than Gas.
on May 6,2014 | 10:22AM
Morimoto wrote:
And exactly what technology is this? Is it something in the works or are you just making this up off the top of your head? If it's so low cost why aren't many doing it now?
on May 6,2014 | 12:06PM
rhone wrote:
there's no fresh water at the bottom of the ocean. it's less dense than seawater, so rises to the top.
on May 6,2014 | 02:20PM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
Submarines and aircraft carriers have two things in common. Nuclear reactors to produce electricity for electrolysis and large piles of tax money to pay for it. Your idea/daydream will require us to fork over even more taxes to spend happy politicians.
on May 6,2014 | 04:17PM
realist3463 wrote:
Global warming will not stress our water supply nearly as much as unrestrained construction and politicians for rent.
on May 6,2014 | 06:58AM
Exactly what I was thinking. Good point.
on May 6,2014 | 08:10AM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
Ditto. I've been saying this for decades. You can't build out this island to 100% because it leaves you no wiggle room when something "unforeseen" happens. In this case "unforeseen" is just blind greed.
on May 6,2014 | 04:14PM
PMINZ wrote:
Yep ! Just where is the Extra Fresh water for all of the New Towering Condos, going to come from? We keep hearing to Conserve Water since we have been having a shortage already. I keep asking this question Bun NO Answer.
on May 6,2014 | 08:53AM
saveparadise wrote:
Yup, politicians don't give a hoot as long as their pockets are filled with self appointed pay raises and developer "gifts". Insanity continues till a wake up call comes loud and clear.
on May 6,2014 | 10:13AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Twenty or thirty years ago before the global warming theory was concocted, a story appeared in one of our local newspapers about sea water replacing fresh water in aquifers. The cause was attributed to an increasing population using fresh water faster than could be replaced by rain water filtering through the ground. What we have now is another attempt to blame everything on global warming
on May 6,2014 | 03:53PM
false wrote:
Hawaii needs a limited growth and construction plan since our water resources are shrinking and will not meet the needs of the population in the near future.
on May 6,2014 | 07:00AM
whoispang wrote:
I agree
on May 6,2014 | 07:13AM
realist3463 wrote:
Maybe we should take a lesson from Florida and their water management plans and regulations. While not perfect by any means, it would be at least a place to start.
on May 6,2014 | 07:37AM
Ronin006 wrote:
This comment was sent for approval twice. I hope sanity has been restored to the censorship editor to allow the comment to be posted: “Twenty or thirty years ago before the global warming theory was concocted, a story appeared in one of our local newspapers about sea water replacing fresh water in aquifers. The cause was attributed to an increasing population using fresh water faster than could be replaced by rain water filtering through the ground. What we have now is another attempt to blame everything on global warming.”
on May 6,2014 | 04:04PM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
I was told we were going to have this problem back in the late 60's by a BOWS engineer. He was very concerned that our population was going to explode and lower the water levels in the aquifer. At the time we had 500,000 people on Oahu.
on May 6,2014 | 04:23PM
HD36 wrote:
Yes I remember it well. Well the legislature needs to send more money for more studies to beaurocrats who have no PHD in science.
on May 6,2014 | 06:49PM
samidunn wrote:
I wouldn't put too much stock in anything put out by the UN. The same agency that has Saudi Arabia on their civil rights commission.
on May 6,2014 | 07:29AM
DABLACK wrote:
As long as the law makers are making money, they'll never give a dam about the future. The problem of water usage was brought up with senator C. Nishihara several years ago. It was on "empty ears". His famous ":will get back to you" did not pan out. His monthly "coffee hour" with the people is a joke. Our concerns are not written down at all. He was reminded to take notes after over (2) yrs of visits with us !!
on May 6,2014 | 07:47AM
awahana wrote:
Here is the link that this article failed to provide.
on May 6,2014 | 09:17AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Twenty or thirty years ago before the global warming theory was concocted, a story appeared in one of our local newspapers about sea water replacing fresh water in aquifers. The cause was attributed to an increasing population using fresh water faster than could be replaced by rain water filtering through the ground. What we have now is another attempt to blame everything on global warming. It is BS.
on May 6,2014 | 09:52AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Well then, let's build lots more single family homes with yards and add golf courses too. Let's also crank tourism numbers to the 10 million/year level.
on May 6,2014 | 10:54AM
Denominator wrote:
Building more homes would help to reduce the cost of homes.
on May 6,2014 | 01:28PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
True, even better if we increase density and avoid the big lawns. Vertical development adds more units to the same amount of space and conserves water resources better.
on May 6,2014 | 02:24PM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
Going vertical will make sense only if our population is held in check. If families keep having three or more children we'll constantly be short of housing -- and out of water. Give developers a chance and they will just plan on packing 10 million on Oahu like Hong Kong. 5000 children having three children each turns into 1,215,000 people in just five generations.
on May 6,2014 | 04:40PM
SteveToo wrote:
Is that 2500 boys and 2500 girls? And the only way for a culture to survive is to have more that two children for each couple.
on May 6,2014 | 06:36PM
environmental_lady wrote:
You can't keep building to infinity. Space is finite. At some point the ecosystem will come crashing down and boom!
on May 6,2014 | 10:15PM
ShibaiDakine wrote:


Section 6. The State and its political subdivisions, as provided by general law, shall plan and manage the growth of the population to protect and preserve the public health and welfare; except that each political subdivision, as provided by general law, may plan and manage the growth of its population in a more restrictive manner than the State. [Add Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]


Section 8. The State shall have the power to promote and maintain a healthful environment, including the prevention of any excessive demands upon the environment and the State's resources. [Add Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]

on May 6,2014 | 11:44AM
Denominator wrote:
Stop eating all the tuna and eat more beef!
on May 6,2014 | 01:29PM
cojef wrote:
Yes, cattle contribute to global warning by the huge quantities of methane gas they expel or create. If you eat em, the number gets less and then less methane gas is created.
on May 6,2014 | 05:37PM
HD36 wrote:
The government might attach a climate change surcharge to beef too. The're running out of money...fast.
on May 6,2014 | 08:20PM
64hoo wrote:
global warming nuts are at it again, with lies.
on May 6,2014 | 01:36PM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
We are going to have a fresh water shortage with or without global warming. Every aquifer has a limit and we are getting close to it. Please see if the Board of Water Supply still has a tour of the aquifer. I did it as a kid and it was extremely interesting. I think you are naive if you think you can just keep on pumping higher and higher amounts of water out of the ground and never have to worry. It takes 25 years for the water to filter down through the rock and with the droughts water levels in the aquifer are down.
on May 6,2014 | 04:47PM
what wrote:
They probably let the terrrists cancel the BWS water tours.
on May 6,2014 | 06:48PM
SteveToo wrote:
Tell me about it as I watch in raining in Wai`anae of all places.
on May 6,2014 | 06:32PM
seaborn wrote:
Why aren't more water storage facilities being built? Year, after year, we keep hearing there's a water shortage, and should conserve water, so I ask again, why aren't more water storage facilities being built?
on May 6,2014 | 06:57PM
seaborn wrote:
Will anything be started on saving the aquifers, or other solutions anytime soon, or will it take years of newly created committees to do studies, years of quibbling over details, and then lots of stalling before nothing happens anyway?
on May 6,2014 | 07:02PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Watershed management is the best way to fix the problem of the aquifers.
on May 6,2014 | 08:56PM
HD36 wrote:
This climate change is a hoax where scientists are given government money and strict criteria to come to that conclusion. The sun is at the peak of a 12 year cycle which has caused most of the droughts. Since Obama care didn't bring in enough money, the government will use climate change as an excuse to tax all forms of energy that release carbons. California has proposed a tax on the miles driven. A climate change surtax on electricity and natural gas. The more the government can save the world the more they can take your money.
on May 6,2014 | 08:19PM
SueH wrote:
Here we go: blame someone/something else for the problem. It's NOT global warming that's stressing Hawaii's fresh water supplies, it the SHEER NUMBER OF PEOPLE THAT ARE TURNING ON THE FAUCETS here on this cramped little island!!
on May 6,2014 | 08:21PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
It's both.
on May 6,2014 | 08:56PM
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