Be Green 2: Turning rain into drinking water


A little rain can be ok, but sometimes a lot of rain can cause headaches.

There’s a bright side to all those showers because they eventually become the drinking water for generations to come.

One look at the verdant Koolau Mountains and you might think why worry about the rain?

“All of the models that talk about rainfall in Hawaii are indicating that we’re looking at a 15 to 30 percent decrease in the next 20 to 50 years which comes on top of a 15 to 30 percent decrease in the last 100 years,” explains Department of Land and Natural Resources director William Aila.

So what is the states long range goal to protect the watershed?

“We have about 10 percent of the state’s forests priority watershed forests that are protected right now. So in the next 8 years, we’re seeking to double that to 20 percent,” Aila says.

Some islands have done better in the past when it comes to sustaining their aquifers.

“The fog drip on Lanai contributes more to their aquifer than does the passing clouds. So you can imagine how important our ridges on all of the islands are,” Aila explains. “We have less rainfall coming. What do we do about it? We have to have our forest in healthy condition so that it can capture as much of the rain and precipitation through cloud drip, fog drip as we can.”

Aila stresses the importance of holding back invasive species.

“We understand that the dams and reservoirs are the second most important part of our plan to make sure that we have rainfall and make sure that we eco-systems that support Hawaii’s truly unique eco-systems,” he says.

A healthy forest decreases the chance of sediment reaching the ocean and threatening our endangered reefs. There is another element to Long Range water conservation.

“Those dams and reservoirs are integral to the future of agriculture in Hawaii because we need inexpensive water to provide our farmers so that they can provide locally grown produce at rates that are competitive to outside sources,” Aila says.

So the next time it rains remember it’s for your grandchildren

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