WEST MAUI - To reduce the amount of pollutants entering the ocean, West Maui Kumuwai is hosting the "Six in Six Rain Garden Challenge" - an exciting program offering materials and technical support for six applicants to install rain gardens over a six-month period.
The awardees will become part of a Rain Garden Hui - a team designed to support and encourage one another's efforts. Entries are due by Dec. 4, 2013.
Through a partnership with the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative, applicants may apply for a stipend that will cover rain garden supplies (native plants, soil, rocks and mulch) and technical assistance from Hui o Ko'olaupoko, an Oahu nonprofit organization that has installed numerous rain gardens in public and private areas and authored the "Hawai'i Rain Garden Manual."
The Wahikuli Rain Garden was built by volunteers in March.
Eligible applicants include homeowners, community groups, businesses or schools within the watersheds of Wahikuli and Honokowai.
From makai, this includes the areas between Hanakao'o (Canoe) Beach to Pohaku Beach Park (S-Turns), and up to the Lahaina Civic Center to Kapalua Airport.
These watersheds are designated as the first priority areas within the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative.
"What makes the Rain Garden Hui program unique is that it is designed to spread knowledge about rain garden construction within communities," said Todd Cullison, executive director of Hui o Ko'olaupoko.
"Members of the Rain Garden Hui will learn how to build a rain garden through hands-on training as they install their own. They are then prepared to help build another rain garden in their neighborhood."
Rain gardens are attractive solutions to a dirty problem. When it rains, water washes off roofs, streets and driveways, carrying pesticides, oil, sediment and other pollutants into storm drains, waterways and the ocean. The after effects are brown nearshore waters and a decline in healthy marine ecosystems.
A rain garden is a sunken landscape that uses plants, soil and mulch to capture dirty runoff and naturally break up pollutants.
The result is less water pollution and an attractive, low-maintenance garden that also helps to reduce erosion.
"In March, the Wahikuli Wayside Park Rain Garden was installed with the help of volunteers. Since then, we've seen a strong interest in rain gardens in the Maui community," said Tova Callender, West Maui watershed and coastal management coordinator.
"Folks can visit the rain garden and actually see it working to divert and filter runoff."
Application instructions for the challenge are posted at www.westmauikumuwai.org. Schools and community groups are highly encouraged to apply. To learn more, or to volunteer for the hui, contact Kristen at (808) 587-7741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.