Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020HI312B

Linking watershed and groundwater management to groundwater dependent ecosystems and their linked ecological, cultural, and socio-economic values

Institute: Hawaii
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-03-01 End Date: 2021-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $60,973 Total Non-Federal Funds: $75,986

Principal Investigators: Leah Bremer

Abstract: There are growing calls from around the world to more holistically manage water for the multiple ecological, economic, and cultural uses. HawaÊ»i is one of the first places to encode holistic water management into law through requiring that water be managed as a public trust, yet operationalization of the public trust doctrine has lagged behind. Central to the public trust doctrine is the need to protect groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs), including fish ponds, anchialine pools, and nearshore ecosystems. Protecting these systems requires understanding the multiple ways they are used and valued as well as the ways in which groundwater pumping, land management, and climate change affects these systems through their influence on the quality and quantity of groundwater. The objectives of this project are to: 1) document the historical uses and values of GDEs in Kona, HawaiÊ»i utilizing Hawaiian Language newspapers, MÄhele documents, and oral histories; 2) document current uses and values of GDEs in Kona as well as perceptions of changes over time in these systems and link historical and current uses and values spatially and temporally; 3) develop an in-depth case study linking submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) to valued GDEs; and 4) evaluate the potential impacts of plausible future interacting scenarios of groundwater pumping, landuse change (forest management and cesspool management), and climate change. Historical and current uses and values of GDEs will be assessed through Hawaiian language newspapers, document analysis, and key informant interviews. We will also compile data linking SGD salinity and nutrient fluxes to growth rates and tolerances of valued algae, fish, bird and invertebrate species, and will collect new data on growth rates of locally valued and problematic invasive algal species. This interdisciplinary dataset will be combined with a management-oriented groundwater model to inform a case study of the Keauhou aquifer evaluating the influence of groundwater pumping, land-use change, and climate change on SGD and valued GDE species. Research will be co-developed with a range of stakeholders interested in sustainable land and water management in Kona and beyond.