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Volunteers spark new pollution- prevention practice on Maui

March 28, 2013
Lahaina News

LAHAINA - More than 50 members of the community representing county government, landscaping companies, marine and gardening non-profits and homeowners recently participated in a two-day event that culminated in the creation of a rain garden featuring all native plants at Wahikuli Wayside Park.

The rain garden training and demonstration garden installation in West Maui on March 15-16 was deemed a success, launching what organizers hope will be a "rain garden revolution" on Maui.

The rain garden that intercepts and treats park shower runoff is easily viewable from the new walking path below the first restroom north of the Lahaina Post Office in Wahikuli Wayside Park.

Article Photos

More than 50 volunteers recently built a new rain garden at Wahikuli Wayside Park.

A rain garden is an intentionally created flat bottom depression planted with natives positioned to receive, treat and infiltrate runoff from impervious surfaces.

This nature-inspired technique is increasingly being employed by local governments and communities as a low-impact means to reduce polluted runoff entering waterways.

The public is encouraged to go see the rain garden any day during park hours.

Participants ranged from elementary students to retirees from all over the island. They worked shoulder-to-shoulder to dig out the garden; haul compost, rock and mulch; measure grade; and plant native plants.

"Teachable moments" were called out by Horsely Witten Group environmental engineers, who developed the design and provided expertise.

Hui o Ko'olaupoko shared experiences from rain gardens installed on Oahu and provided a newly created "Hawaii Residential Rain Garden Manual" to all participants.

This guide, created for ease of use for homeowners, will be available online at

Rain gardens are an easy, cost-effective, ocean-friendly practice homeowners can install with friends or neighbors over a weekend.

The Wahikuli rain garden is intended as a demonstration site to inform and inspire future installations.

Several community partners came together to make the workshop a success, including the county Parks, Public Works and Planning departments, Parsons, SCS Consulting, CJ's Deli and Maui Nui Marine Resource Council.

The design, technical expertise and balance of materials were provided through a National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coral Reef Conservation Program grant.

A key partner in the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative (R2R), NOAA funded and managed the Wahikuli-Honokowai Watershed Management Plan, which identifies rain gardens as a priority practice for meeting the goal of addressing land-based pollution to reduce stress on coral reefs.

R2R is an all-encompassing approach across multiple agencies and organizations to address adverse impacts to coral reefs in West Maui. The initiative builds on already established efforts underway and leverages resources across a number of agencies and community groups to implement actions to reduce one of the key sources of reef decline: land-based sources of pollution.

Find out more at or contact the watershed coordinator at



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