Water is an important resource that every person, animal, and plant needs for survival. Here in Hawaii, we are blessed with plentiful freshwater for drinking and irrigation. However, that could change if we continue to mismanage this precious resource. The water system functions mauka to makai, from the top of the mountains, down the streams, and into the ocean. The forest gathers water from rain and almost 50% from fog, recharging ground water supplies and preventing erosion, which protects coastal environments from sedimentation. Native forests are best equipped for this job but are being taken over by invasive species, which gather much less water. Half of Hawaii’s original watershed forests
have been destroyed, and only 13 percent of those that remain are in active protection.
Native Hawaiian Forest with many layers
Strawberry Guava thicket in Ola‘a Forest Reserve crowds out native plants like hapu‘u
On the Hawaiian islands, freshwater commonly occurs as a body of water called a freshwater lens that floats on saltwater and is separated from the saltwater by a transition zone of brackish water.
Did You Know?
Freshwater lenses across the Hawaii islands have shrunk, meaning less freshwater is available in our groundwater storage. Not only have we reduced our ability to recharge our water supplies, but, as population and tourism continue to increase, so will the demands we place on our water supplies, unless we change our lifestyles.
What Can You Do?
Ask your landscaper/nursery not to sell or use invasive plant species
For useful native plant ideas, visit the website: plantpono.org
When traveling to Hawaii, never bring fresh fruit or live plants as you may unknowingly introduce an invasive species to the Hawaiian Islands that may be detrimental to the native ecosystems.
Spray boots with alcohol before enjoying one of the states many hiking trails
This will prevent hitchhiking seeds and fungus, like those that cause Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death, from being introduced to native areas. Trail information can be found at the Na Ala Hele website: hawaiitrails.ehawaii.gov
Report a pest
Maui Invasive Species Committee has information about the high target invasive species and what you can do to monitor or survey and keep your area clear. For example, it is a good idea to survey your yard for little fire ants after purchasing anything from a nursery.
Pest Hotline: 808-643-PEST or online at https://www.643pest.org/ (for entire state)
Volunteer with a restoration organization
The O‘ahu Invasive Species Committee offers volunteer service trips on the second Saturday of every month at Lyon Arboretum in Manoa Valley from 9:00am-2:00pm. http://www.oahuisc.org/oisc-volunteer-service-trip/
Auwahi Forest takes volunteers out to a native leeward forest that is in the process of being restored. There is only about 3% of this type of forest remaining so these efforts are critical to their survival. Check out their website for more information and volunteer dates http://www.auwahi.org/
Write to legislators
Our politicians care about what the people of Hawaii care about. Let's show them we care about native forests being part of our future! Conservation and Restoration groups are always in need of more funding and only about 1% of Hawaii’s budget is being used to care for our environment that we depend on for survival. Click here to find your representatives at a federal, state, and county level.
What can you do?
When most people think about conserving water, they only think about direct usage, which is the best, first step. However, much of the water we consume is in the form of other products or services, called a virtual water footprint. For example, it takes 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water. One pound of chicken requires about 518 gallons of water versus one pound of beef, which requires 1847 gallons! So, cutting back on beef is actually cutting back on your personal water consumption (and risk of heart disease, and methane in the atmosphere). Too see more comparisons click here.
1,847 gallons/pound 518 gallons/pound
It's not only how much water each product takes but also where that product is from. Check out the differences in how much water is used per some selected products based on where it was grown/raised.
*It is important to note that water intensity isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing what to eat or what products to use but it is good to be aware and make water minded choices when possible. It is also a good practice to make sure your high water intensity items are not being grown or produced in a water deprived region.
Craswell, E., Bonell, M., Bossio, D., Demuth, S., & Van De Giesen, N. (2014). Integrated assessment of water resources and global change. The Netherlands: Springer. pg 40
Since 1992, a maximum of 2.5 gallon per minute (GPM) is the federally mandated flow rate for new shower heads but some states require that it be 2 gpm. The lower you go, the more water and energy savings you get.
Niagara's Earth® Showerhead saves money by using up to 75% less water than traditional "low-flow" showerheads typically found on the market at 1.5 gpm. The patented pressure compensating technology still guarantees a powerful, consistent flow rate regardless of available water pressure. The showerhead features a 9-jet adjustable turbo massage that easily rotates from a gentle needle spray to a forceful jet. As the stream is non-aerated, the showerhead experiences less temperature -- loss translating to maximum energy savings. Offered in white or chrome plated finish, the corrosion-resistant, high-impact ABS thermoplastic body meets or exceeds ANSI specifications and is guaranteed for 10-years.
This shower head has many beneficial features that make it the top pick
Watersense label by the EPA ensures that the gpm is no more than 2 and that the product provide a satisfactory shower that is equal to or better than conventional showerheads on the market.
1.5 gpm saves water and energy
At one 10 minute shower per day, 3650 gallons per year would be saved just by switching from a 2.5 gpm shower head
Push button control trickle valve is already included and installed, which allows you to easily pause stream while lathering
Made in the USA
Supports local economy, ensures workers rights, and follows government environmental protection standards
Made with 100% metal
There are less expensive, quality options available from this brand but not all of them are watersense certified, are 1.5 gpm, or have the trickle valve already included
Install low flow aerators to your sinks
This is the top pick aerator because it fits most male and female threads and it very conveniently switches from .5, 1, and 1.5 gpm. So, if you are washing your hands, set it to .5 but if you are filling up a container or washing dishes, easily switching to 1.5 would probably be desirable.
Install a Toilet Tank Bank
This is a simple device that you place in the tank of your toilet to use less water per flush. Avoid using bricks or rocks because they are materials easily eroded by water and can damage plumbing.
Water Footprint Calculator
A water footprint calculator is a great tool to get a general sense of how much water you use and what you can do to save.