DLNR News Release: DROUGHT CONDITIONS DESCEND ON HAWAI‘I DURING WHAT IS TYPICALLY THE RAINY SEASON

Posted on Mar 8, 2022 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

(HONOLULU) – Most of Hawai‘i is beginning to experience drought conditions, during the time of year when rain is normally plentiful and regular.

The State Commission of Water Resource Management (CWRM) is advising people to take immediate actions to reduce water use in Maui County especially, describing current drought conditions as historic.

CWRM Deputy Kaleo Manuel said, “A significant lack of rainfall across the island has resulted in a lack of groundwater recharge and surface flow. Normal wet season rainfall has not materialized and streams that are normally gushing with water are barely flowing. This is deepening our already grave concerns about the effects of seasonal drought on water supplies.

The County of Maui’s municipal water supply is heavily reliant on surface flow to meet the potable water demands of the upcountry, central valley, and west Maui regions and the lack of streamflow will directly affect water supply for these areas.

Additionally, many communities on Maui are reliant on surface flow for domestic water supply, agricultural irrigation, and for growing kalo. A lack of wet season rainfall will also signal potential consequences for water supplies in the traditional, upcoming dry season.

Continuously monitored streamflow stations across the state are flowing at record low rates, with some approaching the lowest flows ever recorded. Drought conditions, as reported by the U.S. Drought Monitor show nearly the entire state in some level of drought, with all eight of the Main Hawaiian Islands experiencing at least moderate drought. The northwestern tips of Kaua’i and Maui are currently in severe drought. The only exceptions are a small slice in the center of Hawai‘i Island, described as abnormally dry, and the east side of Hawai‘i island, as the only place in the state, not currently experiencing drought conditions.

Oheo Stream at Kipahulu, Maui has stopped flowing above Seven Sacred Pools and Kaluanui Stream near Punalu‘u on O‘ahu has stopped flowing completely. Streamflow from North and South Kaukonahua streams into Lake Wilson is currently below 0.64 million gallons per day (mgd), threatening agricultural uses along the north shore.

Maui County stream flows Period of record Median flow for March 8 Current flow Percentage of median flow
Hanawi 102 years 6.46 mgd 1.34 mgd 21%
West Wailuaiki 102 years 10.34 mgd 1.01 mgd 10%
Waikamoi 27 years 0.14 mgd 0.01 mgd 5%
Nailiilihaele 61 years 14.22 mgd 1.42 mgd 10%
Honopou 110 years 2.52 mgd 0.21 mgd 9%
Waihee 38 years 36.84 mgd 21.39 mgd 60%
Kahakuloa 73 years 7.11 mgd 2.55 mgd 36%
Honokohau 104 years 15.5 mgd 5.6 mgd 37%

 

Honolulu County stream Flows Period of record Median flow for March 8 Current flow Percentage of median flow
South Fork-Kaukonahua 57 years 4.5 mgd 0.50 mgd 11%
North Fork-Kaukonahua 99 years 3.88 mgd 0.11 mgd 3%
Opaeula 61 years 5.09 mgd 0.09 mgd 3%
Kaluanui 53 years 0.97 mgd 0.00 mgd 0%

 

Hawaii County stream flows Period of record Median flow for March 8 Current flow Percentage of median flow
Alakahi 57 years 3.23 mgd 0.01 mgd 0.4%
Kawainui 57 years 4.53 mgd 0.14 mgd 3%

 

Kauai County stream flows Period of record Median flow for March 8 Current flow Percentage of median flow
East Branch North Fork-Wailua 107 years 21.3 mgd 8.08 mgd 38%

 

“As we enter, the more typically dry summer months, and without significant precipitation in the next few months, Hawai‘i could be in store for devastating wildfires this year. We are seeing this consequence of global climate change, played out on many fronts, including fire seasons that are now year around,” said Michael Walker, the State Fire Manager with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW). He said it’s important that people become educated now about how to prevent wildfires, which indirectly have impacts on water supplies, when native vegetation burns in forest watersheds.

CWRM is recommending water conservation measures including the elimination of landscape irrigation, car and truck washing, and reductions in home water use such as shorter showers and not running the faucet continuously when brushing your teeth.

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RESOURCES

(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)

HD video – Maui Nui drought conditions (Moloka‘i and Maui):

https://vimeo.com/686090114

Photographs – Wailuku River and Honokohau Stream:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/wszrxvbjd887ndq/AACdQ_GhVSUx7inAE-QVbwv4a?dl=0

US Geological Survey WaterWatch Real-Time Streamflow Conditions website: https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/?m=real&r=hi

U.S. Drought Monitor for Hawai‘i (March 1, 2022):

https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?HI

Media Contact: 

Dan Dennison

Senior Communications Manager

Hawai’i Dept. of Land and Natural Resources

[email protected]

808-587-0396