Today, Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation announced that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $20,000,000 grant to the University of Hawaii System for a clean water research project. The project, titled Ike Wai from the Hawaiian words for knowledge and water, will address the critical needs of the state to maintain its supply of clean water, most of which comes from groundwater sources.
“This grant will greatly improve our understanding of one of Hawaii’s most precious natural resources,” said Representative Mark Takai (HI-01). “Through public-private collaboration with federal, state and local agencies, we can increase the efficiency of our state’s water management, and ensure that we have the federal resources necessary to promote a workforce capable of conducting this type of research for generations to come.”
“Due to our volcanic origins, our system of aquifers is far more complex than we once thought,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i). “This grant will allow scientists to use modern mapping tools to provide policymakers with critical information about our water resources, and help ensure that there is enough for the needs of people, agriculture, and future generations.”
“Hawaii’s water is a precious resource, and this competitive funding will support the University of Hawaii’s research into protecting our fresh water sources for future generations,” said Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power. “Ike Wai and other projects that build an innovative, sustainable future are essential to understanding and finding solutions for our island state’s unique needs, and also underscore the importance of significant federal investments in research in these critical areas, something that I strongly support.”
“Pollution, fracking, unsustainable farming practices, and over development have put serious pressure on our clean water supply across the globe. It is essential that we protect and maintain access to fresh and clean water in Hawaiʻi due our isolated location in the Pacific,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “There is still much unknown about how water flows through the unique landscapes and volcanic foundations of our islands. This grant from the National Science Foundation will help us to better understand how to use our precious natural resources to ensure a continuous and high quality water supply.”
The Ike Wai project, awarded under the NSF’s Research Infrastructure Improvements Program, will greatly improve understanding of where the water that provides for the needs of Hawaii’s cities, farms, and industries comes from and how to ensure a continued, high quality supply. This supply is under increasing pressures from population growth, economic development, and climate change. The funding provided by the NSF will encourage collaboration with federal, state, and local agencies and community groups concerned with water management.