The Kā’anapali Ocean Resort Charitable Trust donated $40,000 to the Maui College Water Quality Laboratory at the University of Hawaii. The funding will be used to purchase a peristaltic pump to filter seawater; a laboratory furnace for burning bottles; general laboratory supplies for operations and analysis of nutrients, biological oxygen demand, E. coli and total suspended solids; and will also finance a student internship in the laboratory.
The lab – named Pūko’a hina’ole in Hawaiian – is headed by Dr. Andrea Kealoha. Born and raised in Pā’ia and a graduate of King Kekaulike High School, she holds a BS in Global Environmental Science from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, an MS in Marine Science from the ‘University Hawai’i Pacific and a Ph.D. D. in oceanography from Texas A&M University.
His research focuses on climate change and other human stressors on coral reef ecosystems.
During the pandemic, she conducted research at Kahekili Beach Park, the site of the injection wells at the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility.
“Given the improvements in wastewater infrastructure and the dramatic reduction in tourism, Kealoha has had an unprecedented opportunity to study the potential positive impacts of improved water quality on health and resilience of the coral reefs at the beach park – which is in front of the Kā’anapali Ocean Resort,” according to UHMC.
KORCT is invested in preserving the health of their local reef and supporting efforts in this area from mauka to makai.
“When we discovered that Andrea’s work was literally taking place in our backyard, we were eager to participate and engage our owners,” says Ryan Nobriga, General Manager of Kā’anapali Ocean Resort. Kealoha also believes “this is a great opportunity to involve owners, and especially their children, in learning how to care for our ocean.”
Established in 2020, Pūko’a hina’ole is Maui’s only water lab despite numerous rules and regulations requiring many farms, businesses, and other operations to regularly test their water quality. Previously, samples had to be flown to Honolulu, often on ice and within hours of collection.