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DATA CENTER

Framework for Evaluating the Hydrologic Effects of Watershed Restoration Programs, Maui and Molokai

Project Chief: Alan Mair
Project Period: October 2014 to June 2015
Cooperator: Maui County Department of Water Supply
Location: Islands of Maui and Molokai

Problem

Watershed restoration activities are being implemented by a host of watershed partnerships on the islands of Maui and Molokai to help ensure that upland watersheds continue to contribute to a sustainable supply of freshwater. Although these restoration activities are purported to have many hydrologic benefits, little quantitative data have been collected to characterize the impacts of restoration on hydrologic processes. A defined set of metrics, approaches, and methods to quantify the hydrologic benefits of ongoing watershed restoration programs is currently lacking.

Objectives

The objectives of this study are to (1) identify a set of metrics for quantifying the effects of watershed restoration on hydrologic processes that affect freshwater availability on the islands of Maui and Molokai, (2) identify appropriate approaches and methods to quantify the selected metrics, and (3) provide the information on appropriate metrics, approaches, and methods to the watershed partnerships in a form that can be readily used.

Relevance and Benefits

The results from this study are necessary to identify a set of metrics and methods for quantifying the impacts of watershed restoration on hydrologic processes that affect freshwater availability including groundwater recharge, net precipitation, cloud-water interception, infiltration capacity, evapotranspiration, surface runoff, and streamflow. Therefore, the study is consistent with the USGS Science Strategy to provide citizens, communities, natural-resource managers, and policymakers with a clearer knowledge of the status of their water resources. By identification of metrics and methods to quantify the effects of watershed restoration on hydrologic processes and water resources that provide public-water supply and support fragile ecosystems, this study broadly supports two of the six science directions in the USGS science strategy: (1) a water census of the United States, and (2) understanding ecosystems and predicting ecosystem change.

Approach

In order to meet the objectives, the study will be conduct a review of watershed restoration efforts in the State of Hawaii and similar environments, and compile documentation on their impacts on hydrology. The purpose of the review will be to determine the relevant metrics used to assess the hydrologic impacts of watershed restoration, and the approaches and methods used to quantify the metrics. Then, a series of three one-day workshops will be held to engage staff from Maui Department of Water Supply and the watershed partnerships in identifying appropriate metrics, approaches, and methods for assessing hydrologic response to watershed restoration. Results from this study will be published in the USGS Scientific Investigations Report series and made available on the internet.

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