Community partners gathered on April 11 to learn more about the collective effort to help the Ko'olau Mountains Watershed Partnership protect and replenish the vital Waiawa watershed, a key source for fresh drinking water.
As a Native Hawaiian trust, Kamehameha Schools manages Pauahi’s lands and resources in a manner consistent with Hawaiian cultural and regional principles.
As part of an ongoing public-private partnership, the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the Coca-Cola Company and the Ko‘olau Mountains Watershed Partnership have collaborated to replenish and protect the Waiawa watershed, which supplies the majority of O‘ahu’s drinking water by generating more than 364 million gallons per day.
The partnership will protect and manage 1,400 acres in the central portion of the Ko‘olau range, including 1,000 acres of Kamehameha Schools land within its ‘Ewa, O‘ahu Region and 400 acres of the state’s ‘Ewa Forest Reserve. The effort involves raising money for and installing 6.6 miles of protective fencing designed to keep wild, invasive animal and plant species out of the watershed.
KS’ Natural and Cultural Resources team, under the direction of Jason Jeremiah, has helped ensure that the organization is a member of every watershed partnership that includes its lands. Jeremiah notes that 12 percent of all Native Hawaiian ecosystems reside within KS land holdings, including 38,000 fenced acres to protect the various habitats. Additionally, half of Hawai‘i’s endangered species depend on KS lands, which provide thriving habitats for nearly 200 rare varieties of plants and animals.
“Twenty percent of Hawai‘i’s watershed forests are on KS land. The Ko‘olau watershed is vital to the people of O‘ahu as it provides an abundance of clean, fresh drinking water and other critical ecosystem functions and houses the many native plants and animals that are significant elements of our Hawaiian identity, ” Jeremiah said.
“As we continue to adopt plans for Pauahi’s lands and resources consistent with cultural principles and regional plans, partnerships like this allow KS to remain a responsible steward.”
Coca-Cola, which is headquartered in Atlanta and has local offices and bottling facilities in Hawai‘i, has contributed a $200,000 grant to assist with the project, which is expected to take up to 18 months to finish once materials are secured and the permitting process is completed. The fence will also be funded by two $100,000 grants via the Honolulu Board of Water Supply and the state watershed capital improvement fund, and the remainder of the bill is expected to be footed by the state Legislature; according to DLNR Chair Suzanne Case, $15 million has already been requested for multiple watershed fencing efforts over the next two years.
Coca-Cola serves as a model for other private companies that do business in Hawai‘i as the beverage giant has already engaged in more than 100 replenishment projects across 19 regions throughout the United States.
“The funding from The Coca-Cola Company brings us that much closer to achieving the Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative, which includes our commitment to protect 30 percent of Hawai‘i’s priority watersheds by 2030,” explained Gov. David Ige. “We’ve always said this goal will take a broad and engaged cross-section of people and partnerships. We value and appreciate the (partners’) contribution to this crucial effort toward helping protect water as the lifeblood of these islands.”
STRATEGIC PLAN 2020
SP2020 is a five-year strategic plan that will guide Kamehameha Schools from 2015 to 2020. The plan marks a starting point toward KS’ Vision 2040, which envisions success for all Native Hawaiian learners.
This partnership aligns with Goal 3 of SP2020 as KS aims to cultivate a strong Native Hawaiian identity for the improvement of the well-being of the lāhui. The project also aligns with Action 6 of Kamehameha’s Ten Actions for fiscal year 2016-2017 in which KS manages Pauahi’s lands and resources in a manner consistent with Hawaiian cultural and regional principles.