Windward group promotes clean-ocean volunteerism
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer
The state, the federal government and a local foundation have granted more than $160,000 to a Windward O'ahu group working to improve the ocean's health.
Hui o Ko'olaupoko will use the funds to increase volunteer and educational workshops, engage youth leaders, improve the quality of runoff into Ka'elepulu Stream and interact with communities on volunteer projects, said Todd Cullison, the organization's executive director.
"Having diverse funding sources demonstrates a commitment from each of the funders for protecting and improving water quality in Ko'olaupoko," Cullison said.
Supporting the Hui's efforts are the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation with an $82,500 grant, the Hawai'i Tourism Authority with $60,000, and the Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Health Polluted Runoff Control Program with $20,000.
The hui's mission is a good fit with the Castle Foundation's twin strategies of improving marine resource management and strengthening Windward communities, said Terrence George, vice president and executive director of the Castle Foundation.
"What we liked about the Hui o Ko'olaupoko was that they planned to engage a wider array of people in the Ko'olaupoko region, from students in schools to kūpuna and other community leaders ... in watershed education and watershed management," George said. "If we don't improve the quality of the water that's flowing down into our near-shore areas, we're never going to improve the habitat for fish, algae and coral in those areas."
Hui o Ko'olaupoko, a nonprofit, will use the grants toward its community efforts, including increasing the number of volunteers working to improve water quality and to spread information about how to do that, Cullison said.
A $60,000 project funded by the Hawai'i Tourism Authority to address runoff in a city parking lot next to Buzz's Steak House in Kailua can serve as a demonstration project, he said.
The project calls for installation of 25,000 square feet of pervious concrete, a bio-swale to filter runoff, and informational signs to explain the goals, said Robbie Kane, product development manager for the Hawai'i Tourism Authority.
It's one of 27 projects funded with $1 million that the HTA set aside for its Natural Resources Program, which supports efforts to manage, improve and protect Hawai'i's natural resources that are frequented by visitors, Kane said.
The project is in a major flood zone where runoff from hillsides, yards and roads washes directly into Ka'elepulu Stream and into the ocean, polluting the sand and beaches in Kailua Bay.