National Institute for Water Resources, Water Resources Research Institute Program
Island communities are faced with a unique set of environmental and cultural issues pertinent to the management of water resources. Fresh water resources are under threat on many islands as the result of both overuse and contamination. Ocean waters in these tropical regions are ecologically sensitive and valuable, and similarly threatened by pollution. On some islands, sea level rise is degrading groundwater resources. Most island communities are heavily dependent on importing essentials, such as food, fuel, and manufactured goods to satisfy their resource needs. In addition, population growth is putting increasing pressure on water resources. It is imperative that these threats to the welfare of island communities be addressed by sound scientific research before they reach crisis proportions. To prevent water shortages, sustainable management and protection of island water supplies is even more critical than it is on the continents, as island communities have no water resources for importation. Those tasked with resource protection and management need access to scientifically sound research that is specific to island environments. The above issues are universal to island states, yet researchers in these far-flung and isolated places seldom have the opportunity to share knowledge and experience with one another, as they mainly work in isolation. The great distance that separates most island states from the larger centers of academia and government means that there is a less frequent exchange between researchers on the islands and their colleagues in the major population centers. Enhanced communication and collaboration between island researchers can provide a vital, synergistic link, which will strengthen all research programs. It is a truism that the greatest scientific advances usually result from a collaboration of researchers working together.
The 2015 conference built upon discussions and interactions at a previous conference hosted by the four Island Institutes (WRRC, WERI, PRWRERI, and VI-WRRI) in Honolulu, Hawaii from November 14 - 16, 2011. The intention of these discussions was to strengthen the synergism between researchers working in the State of Hawaii, U.S. affiliated islands in the Pacific, U.S. Virgin islands, and Puerto Rico, and to develop solutions and ideas on water resources issues that are particularly relevant to tropical islands.
The conference lasted for three days with poster and oral sessions. The meeting closed with a panel discussion attended by directors from hosting organizations to discuss core research capabilities and gaps, focus areas, and opportunities and plans for collaborative work in tropical islands. Selected authors of significant contributions have been invited to submit manuscripts that will be published in a proceeding volume.