Introduction

Spring 2024 WRRC SEMINAR SCHEDULE

ALL LECTURES WILL BE VIRTUAL THIS SPRING ON FRIDAY FROM 2–3 PM (HST) UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

LOCATION: UH MĀNOA CAMPUS, ZOOM MEETING

Spring 2024 WRRC SEMINAR SCHEDULE

9 FEBRUARY • The Present and Future State of the Pearl Harbor Aquifer by Paul Eyre. Location: Zoom (register for Zoom here).

15 FEBRUARY • Higher Tide—The Alabama Water Institute's Journey Towards Advancing Water Research and Technology by Matthew Womble. Location: Kuykendall 201 and Zoom (register for Zoom here). – Cancelled

16 FEBRUARY • Observing Floods from Space by Dr. Dinuke Munasinghe. Location: Kuykendall 201 and Zoom (register for Zoom here).

23 FEBRUARY • Beach Sand Quality – A Recent Concern by Dr. João Brandão (Department of Environmental Health, Portuguese National Institute of Health Doutor Ricardo Jorge). Location: IT Center 105B and Zoom (register for Zoom here).

8 March • Empowering Communities: WRRC's Efforts in the Aftermath of Maui's 2023 Wildfires by Dr. Chris Shuler (Water Resources Research Center and the Sea Grant College Program at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa). Zoom (register for Zoom here).

 

For more information about the Spring 2024 WRRC Seminars, please contact:  Zhiyue Wang, zhiyue@hawaii.edu

If interested in joining the seminar, please contact:  wrrc@hawaii.edu

Back to Seminar Series

 

Empowering Communities: WRRC's Efforts in the Aftermath of Maui's 2023 Wildfires

Speaker: Dr. Chris Shuler

Date: March 8, 2024 (2:00 pm, HST)

The devastating wildfires that struck Maui in August 2023 resulted in tragic impacts, including loss of life and property damage. However, the interaction between wildfire smoke and melting pipes also introduced the potential for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs) to contaminate municipal drinking water systems, posing serious health risks and sparking a potential health crisis for the impacted communities. In this presentation, I will discuss WRRC's response efforts to the fires and the unsafe water advisory issued by County of Maui’s Department of Water Supply (DWS) on August 11th. We swiftly mobilized a team within the impacted communities to initiate a water sampling program and developed an online platform to provide vital information, including sampling requests, access to data, news updates, and FAQs. I will present the preliminary results from our water sampling and discuss how we plan to use this data to gain new insights into this recently discovered pathway of contamination. Throughout the last six months, our primary focus has remained on community engagement and outreach during the response phase of the disaster, ensuring that affected residents receive the water quality support and information they need to effectively navigate the crisis.

 

Beach Sand Quality – A Recent Concern

Speaker: Dr. João Brandão

Date: February 23, 2024 (2:00 pm, HST)

The emergence of Candida auris has sparked global interest in fungi within the context of environmental and occupational health, water management, and research. In 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) discussed several fungal taxa as being “of interest” for recreational water quality management, and recommended monitoring beach sand for bacterial indicators of faecal pollution and all fungi. In 2022, the WHO Fungal Priority Pathogens List was published cementing the recommendation to monitor fungi in national and supranational regulation. However, the cost and specificity of methodologies for fungi monitoring may present a challenge for their implementation. Current water microbiology regulation is focused nearly exclusively on faecal indicator bacteria and the integration of Fungi would require further training and funding, but the emergence of Candid auris already justifies such an investment in the near future.

Despite government efforts to develop guidelines and directives, non-governmental organizations are leading the charge in implementing sand analysis programs. Blue Flag is a world-renowned program that recognizes voluntary groups across the globe with an award that fulfils their aim of “connecting the public with their surroundings and encouraging them to learn more about their environment.”

 

Observing Floods From Space 

Speaker: Dr. Dinuke Munasinghe

Date: February 16, 2024 (2:00 pm, HST)

Floods are one of the leading natural disasters which devastate agricultural crops and property, contribute to disease outbreaks, cause the loss of human lives, and have huge impacts on national economies. Satellite remote sensing observations of floods have the potential to serve as an important complementary data source to more traditional data gathering methods ranging from drones to recording of mud marks. However, data availability hinges on satellites being at the right place at the right time. In the first part of the talk, the potential of merging datasets from multiple satellite platforms to increase the odds of collecting information during flood events will be explored. Scientific and societal benefits of such mergers will follow.

The focus on the second part of the talk will be on technology development that could aid in the early detection of floods. River width is central to the calculation of stream flows and could be used as a proxy for gaging water levels. The swift availability of river width data afforded through Satellite Remote Sens- ing plays a critical role in delivering actionable insights for anticipating floods. The current work on the “River Processor”, an automated algorithm that extracts river widths from state-of-the art surface water products derived from multi-source satellite imagery will be discussed in this section.

 

Higher Tide – The Alabama Water Institute's Journey Towards Advancing Water Research and Technology (CANCELLED)

Speaker: Mr. Matthew Womble

Date: February 15, 2024 (12:00 pm, HST)

Since 1879, the Pearl Harbor aquifer (Ewa-Kunia excluded) has shrunk to around 60 percent of its original size; from about 33 feet to about 19 feet currently. Irrigation of sugarcane crops during the plantation era, amounting to about 120 million gallons per day (MGD), accounted for most of the pumpage that resulted in the shrinkage of the Pearl Harbor lens. However, by 2008, the aquifer stopped shrinking and had reached an equilibrium with the new conditions of recharge and pumpage that were established following the end of plantation agriculture in the early 1990s. In the decades to come, the aquifer will shrink again, to about half of its current size, as it comes into a new equilibrium with the increased pumpage allowed by the Commission on Water Resource Management’s sustainable yield of 150 MGD. The current pumpage, mostly for residential use, is about 90 MGD. This presentation will show the data and the methods that led to these conclusions. This is a vital subject that has been studied, discussed, and debated for many years and will continue to be discussed by all who have an interest in Hawai‘i’s future. Hopefully, this presentation will encourage a lively exchange of ideas on the current and future state of the Pearl Harbor aquifer and the consequences of future water demands.

 

The Present and Future State of the Pearl Harbor Aquifer

Speaker: Dr. Paul Eyre

Date: February 9, 2024 (2:00 pm, HST)

Since 1879, the Pearl Harbor aquifer (Ewa-Kunia excluded) has shrunk to around 60 percent of its original size; from about 33 feet to about 19 feet currently. Irrigation of sugarcane crops during the plantation era, amounting to about 120 million gallons per day (MGD), accounted for most of the pumpage that resulted in the shrinkage of the Pearl Harbor lens. However, by 2008, the aquifer stopped shrinking and had reached an equilibrium with the new conditions of recharge and pumpage that were established following the end of plantation agriculture in the early 1990s. In the decades to come, the aquifer will shrink again, to about half of its current size, as it comes into a new equilibrium with the increased pumpage allowed by the Commission on Water Resource Management’s sustainable yield of 150 MGD. The current pumpage, mostly for residential use, is about 90 MGD. This presentation will show the data and the methods that led to these conclusions. This is a vital subject that has been studied, discussed, and debated for many years and will continue to be discussed by all who have an interest in Hawai‘i’s future. Hopefully, this presentation will encourage a lively exchange of ideas on the current and future state of the Pearl Harbor aquifer and the consequences of future water demands.