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Maui researchers and citizen scientists vigilantly monitor quality of coastal waters

Hui O Ka Wai Ola sampling team at Oneloa Bay
Hui O Ka Wai Ola sampling team at Oneloa Bay

It’s been a very wet and windy February and that means our ocean waters are not as clear as they could be due to sediment and other pollutants. Hui O Ka Wai Ola is a community-based water monitoring program on Maui. It translates to the “association for living waters.”

For the past seven years, its clean ocean team has analyzed over 3,200 water quality samples from 48 sites around the Valley Isle. The Conversation sat down with senior team leader Liz Yannell to talk about its latest citizen science efforts, including a pesticide runoff study and an ongoing brown water watch.

"We love any type of photo, whether it's a drone shot or an up-close shot of a stream flowing into the ocean. It's just great for us to have some documentation and be able to — you know, a picture's worth 1000 words, right? — be able to share that on social media, share it with the Department of Health so they can keep track of it as well," she said.

Yannell trains and coordinates 25 Hui volunteers to collect and test coastal water samples along leeward Maui. She also works in both the South Maui and West Maui labs to verify and ensure the data before the team releases it to the public.

Send your brown water photos to brownwaterwatch@gmail.com. Include the date, location, and any interesting observations you'd like to share.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Feb. 27, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1. 

Lillian Tsang is the senior producer of The Conversation. She has been part of the talk show team since it first aired in 2011. Contact her at ltsang@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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