The Hawaiian cultural practice of making salt is one of Hawai‘i’s oldest traditions and Hanapēpē Salt Pond is one of the last places in all of Hawaiʻi that continues this tradition. The area and practice is highly treasured and protected by the salt makers as well as the larger community. Over the years this cultural practice has been threatened by increased marine and rainfall flooding (as well as user conflicts and nonpoint pollution) during the summer months, when ideal salt-making conditions require the Pond to be hot and dry.
Throughout 2018-2022 a team of specialists, researchers, and practitioners were assembled and included the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program Kaua‘i Coastal Land Use Extension Specialist, representatives of the Hui Hana Paʻakai o Hanapēpē, the University of Hawai‘i Hui ʻĀina Momona, and University of Hawai‘i researchers from the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) to conduct a hydrogeologic investigation at Hanapēpē Salt Pond. The study was geared toward determining the subsurface geomorphology and developing a groundwater model based on environmental monitoring data and the use of state-of-the-art hydro-geophysical techniques.