Development

Three-foot high wooden walls enclose a small plot of soil and plants.

When the Unmentionable becomes Unavoidable

Wastewater is a fact of life we tend to shy away from. But with sea-level rise compromising many coastal cesspools, attention (and legislation) has focused on the larger cesspool issue in Hawaiʻi. Read more about our 2020 Grau Fellow’s experience working on this unmentionable problem.
A water hazard sign sits near a beach

Tracking groundwater nutrients using novel tracers to inform coastal watershed management in South Kohala, Hawaiʻi

PI: Henrietta Dulai
Using a combination of nitrogen isotopes and microcontaminants as source tracers, this project aims to identify pathways of groundwater flow to the coastline along South Kohala, Hawaiʻi, tracing sources of groundwater contaminants and excess nutrients. Managers can use results to improve wastewater management and improve coral reef resilience.
A split image with the left showing a researcher adding dye to the top of a cesspool, and the right showing a natural rock-enclosed pool dyed green.

Identifying hot spots of sewage pollution in Hilo, Hawaiʻi

PI: Tracy Wiegner
Hawaiʻi banned new cesspools in 2015, but groundwater contamination from the remaining 8700 cesspools in the Hilo area is a continuing concern. This work will use dye tracer studies to track cesspool outflows and use sewage indicators to establish contaminant sources to coastal groundwaters to inform future management decisions.
A school of fish swim over a reef

Land-based pollutants on Hawaiian reefs

PI: Megan Donahue
Increased military, agricultural, and residential development contaminates surrounding watersheds that feed into critical coastal ecosystems. This work examines land-based pollutants, such as metals and persistant organics, in coastal ecosystems and reef fish to understand how the pollutants are distributed and transported, with an eye toward better land management decisions.
Model with a shoreline and buildings

Envisioning In Situ Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategies for a Densely Developed Coastal Community, Waikiki

PI: Wendy Meguro
Waikiki, an economic hub for Hawaiʻi, is already subject to regularly flooding and faces an uncertain future with sea-level rise. This project will offer conceptual design renderings towards an “in-place” adaptation strategy, to help motivate large-scale planning for an adaptive environment in this densely developed coastal community.