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KALO WATER USE

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Water Use of Wetland Kalo Cultivation in West Maui, Hawai'i, 2010

Introduction

In recent years, competition in Hawai'i over limited surface-water resources has led to contested-case hearings and other proceedings to resolve disputes over the availability of water. Wetland kalo, or taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott), is a vital part of the cultural and agricultural traditions of Native Hawaiians. Thus, quantifying water use for kalo cultivation is a critical component for establishing instream flow standards and resolving legal disputes over water in Hawai'i. Closely associated with water use for kalo cultivation is water temperature. A temperature of 27C is cited as the threshold temperature above which wetland kalo is more susceptible to fungi such as Pythium root and corm rot (fig. 1) and other diseases (Gingerich and others, 2007; Ooka, 1994).

This study complements information collected from other sites in Hawai'i by (1) documenting current water use for selected kalo lo'i (shallow, watery terraces and pondfields), and (2) monitoring the variation in inflow and outflow water temperatures of selected kalo lo'i. Three kalo cultivation areas in west Maui, Hawai'i were selected for this study: Kaua'ula, Honokōhau, and Olowalu (fig. 2; table 1).

This study was conducted in cooperation with the County of Maui Office of Economic Development. Access to the lo'i, and information about the irrigation systems and farming practices were graciously provided by Charlie Palakiko of Kaua'ula, Kekai Keahi and Willy Wood of Honokōhau, and John Duey of the Olowalu Cultural Reserve.

Photograph of rotted kalo by Kekai Keahi
Figure 1. The effects of pythium root and corm rot in kalo are stunted growth and rotted corms. Shown in the middle is a healthy kalo plant and on the two sides are examples of rotted kalo plants, Kaua'ula lo'i complex. Photograph courtesy of Kekai Keahi.


Map showing location of study area
Figure 2. Location of study sites, west Maui, Hawai'i.

Table 1. Measurement stations in west Maui, Hawai'i.

Complex Site ID USGS
Station Number
Kauai
Kaua'ulaKa1-CI205206156383901
Ka2-CO205159156384201
HonokōhauHo3-CI210047156362401
Ho4-CO210052156362201
HoPipe-CI210048156362201
Olowalu2-LI204918156364901
OCR5-CI204918156364902
6-LI204918156365001
7-LI204918156364903
OCR6-CO204917156364901
11-LI204918156365002
12-LI204918156365003
OCRPipe-CO204915156365101

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Page Last Modified: Tuesday, 15-Jan-2013 19:07:16 EST