EPA Awards Community Action Grant to Hawaii’s Waianae Coast
Funds will be used for Ka Wai Ola O Waianae Moku stream assessment project
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Pacific Southwest Acting Regional Administrator Laura Yoshii celebrated the award of $93,256 in Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) program funding to the Waianae Coast and acknowledged their great start on theimportant community project.
The funding will be used for the Ka Wai Ola O Waianae Moku project to assess how human activities near and in streams are adversely affecting subsistence and recreation use of near-shore waters along the Waianae Coast. The Pacific American Foundation will be assisting the community in managing the project. An additional $50,000 worth of EPA Pacific Southwest Region contractor assessment funding is also being put toward the effort.
"Today we are pleased to highlight the start of a great project involving stakeholders and community members throughout the Waianae Coast in assessing and prioritizing potential toxic risks in their streams," said Yoshii. "This is the first step toward reducing the toxic impacts in the local area. I am pleased that EPA can play an ongoing role in these efforts to reduce toxics and achieve a healthier environment here on the Waianae Coast."
The project will focus on four streams—Nanakuli, Ulehawa, Kaupuni, and Makaha—by gathering and consolidating existing water quality data and conducting site walks to gather visual data. The project goals include engaging youth at intermediate, high school and university levels to understand the risks associated with pollutants. The goal is then for the youth to engage their communities to reduce risks associated with environmental pollutants.
Wai`anae Coast community members will be assembled to develop locally appropriate indicators, select benchmarks, create issue profiles, rank issues and set priorities.
The final product will be the development of an action plan to address water quality issues in the four streams and near-shore waters along the Wai`anae Coast, which will serve as a basis for further funding through the CARE Level II cooperative agreement proposal.
"The water in the streams used to flow. We swam in the streams in the summer because it was so hot. It was clean, peaceful, with no rubbish. But today, we are afraid to swim in our streams and ocean," said Waianae Coast residents Pake Salmon, Christina Cunningham and Rochelle Lendt. "We appreciate the EPA funding Ka Wai Ola O Waianae Moku to help us restore our streams. We need to bring awareness and education to the community on how their activities impact our land and steams."
The EPA’s Community Action for a Renewed Environment program is a competitive grant program that offers communities an innovative way to address the risks from multiple sources of toxic pollution in their environment. The program encourages local organizations including non-profits, businesses, schools and governments to create partnerships that implement local solutions to reduce releases of toxic pollutants and minimize people’s exposure to them, improving the environment through local action.
For more information on CARE, visit www.epa.gov/air/care/index.htm.