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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

Hawaii (Section 319I - 1994)

Hawaii has expended much effort to gain cooperation and support from significant entities both inside and outside the state. Its success in working with other groups to make headway in controlling nonpoint source pollution is evident in the following successes in the Pearl Harbor Bay watershed.

Pearl Harbor Programs Flourish through Cooperation

Innovation, perseverance, and cooperation are the watchwords in Hawaii's efforts to control nonpoint source pollution in the Pearl Harbor Bay watershed, with section 319 money getting the projects rolling.

In 1990, the U.S. Navy expressed interest and concern about the problem of heavy silt loading into the East Loch of Pearl Harbor from Halawa Stream. At the Navy's request, the South Oahu Soil and Water Conservation District held an interagency meeting to look for ways to prevent soil erosion across all land uses. From this meeting, the Pearl Harbor Estuary Program Interagency Committee (PHEPIC) formed, consisting of 17 agencies and groups, and received the first section 319 implementation grant.

PHEPIC began a public education and information campaign, using $3,000 in section 319 funds and $12,500 in other funds. The committee selected storm drain stenciling as one of the projects because of its high visibility. The project was intended to encourage community participation and raise public awareness about how storm drains are connected directly to streams and the ocean. Storm drains are commonly used to dispose of used motor oil, pet waste, rotting fruit, and other rubbish.

At the Navy's request, the Hawaii Department of Health briefed the base admiral on the education project. The Navy's enthusiastic contribution included producing an 8-minute video to train volunteers to stencil storm drains in Navy housing areas, and in other areas on the base. The admiral attended the kickoff event and expressed support to television news reporters. The one-year project started in October 1992.

The Navy's education and outreach support included modifying a DOH nonpoint source brochure, adding a message about the Navy recycling program, and printing 5,000 copies to distribute to Navy personnel. In another effort, PHEPIC targeted the Waiawa wetland to enhance wildlife habitat and to serve as a sediment retention area. The Navy committed $200,000 to conduct a thorough study of the wetland to determine if restoration was feasible; this was begun in September 1991. The committee continues to work to prevent and control nonpoint source pollution from entering Pearl Harbor. With the Navy's cooperation assured, the Health Department turned its attention and section 319 resources to other matters.

Miles of Hawaii's highways are afflicted with erosion. Sediment from road cuts enters storm runoff collection systems and is delivered to the ocean. The need to revegetate eroding roadside cuts with drought tolerant, low maintenance vegetation was not only a good idea but a necessary one. Erosion and sediment control is difficult to sell to the public when the state is not controlling its own erosion.

The obstacles were numerous, however. The State Department of Transportation had no resources to devote to such a project. Maintenance funds were scarce and federal funds were earmarked exclusively for new construction. With a water shortage looming, the Transportation Department did not want to create additional areas requiring irrigation. However, to justify spending 319 grant monies on such a project, involvement and enthusiasm for transferring the demonstrated technology to other sites was needed. The Health Department worked hard to sell the idea. It held meetings and drafted letters to top transportation management. It offered to demonstrate a system that required no mowing or permanent irrigation, and that would save money since the Transportation Department would not need to clean sediment from the ditches. The Health Department also suggested that the project would be good public relations and help the Transportation Department meet new requirements in the Surface Transportation Act to control nonpoint source pollution. Finally, the Transportation and Health Departments, SCS, and PHEPIC signed a memo of understanding. A $20,000 section 319 grant and $14,000 in additional funds were used for the project.

The Health Department selected a severely eroded site adjacent to the Pearl Country Club. The club donated irrigation water for a temporary drip irrigation system for two years. A consultant with expertise in xeriscape landscaping developed a plan using 26 species, including eight native plants. Local botanical gardens and nurseries donated a portion of the plants. SCS designed an irrigation system, which the Transportation Department installed. With the assistance of community volunteers, Transportation did the planting. The soil and water conservation districts and McDonald's donated food for the workers.

The Transportation Department will maintain the site for at least two years and the University of Hawaii will monitor the site, using an adjacent site as control. The university will use runoff plot methodology to measure sediment, herbicide, and nutrients in stormwater runoff, and a student will receive a stipend to map all eroding roadcuts in the watershed and rank them for future plantings.

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