Hawaii County Drought Committee Meeting

Kevin Kodama, Hawaii Drought Commission, gives an update on recent drought predictions. 

Drought is an issue that requires all hands on deck to address. Drought affects everything from agricultural yields to cattle health to rainwater catchment to wildfires. Although recent rains have helped alleviate some of the current drought pressures, mostly on the east sides of the islands, droughts will most likely persist on the leeward sides through the summer (and potentially extend back on to the windwards sides).

National Weather Service, Hawaii Drought Commission, Department of Agriculture, Department of Hawaiian Homelands, Department of Water Supply, Hawaii Fire Department, One World One Water, and HWMO representatives gathered at the DHHL Waimea headquarters on June 7th to discuss current drought conditions and what each group was doing to take action.

On the wildfire side, HFD has recently purchased a few tankers for brush trucks to tap off of during wildland fires. Parker Ranch, as reported by Neil Fujii of the Hawaii Drought Commission, had placed fire risk reduction as a top priority and was hoping to add more dip tanks on their lands. HWMO’s Pablo Beimler shared about the Firewise Communities efforts being made statewide and asked for partnership on the Wildfire & Drought Look Out! campaign. Melissa Kunz, PFX Coordination Assistant, shared new PFX resources for large landowners.

For the last half of the meeting, participants added input to the Hawaii Drought Plan update. The facilitators and contractors writing the plan from One World One Water led participants through a series of topics including climate change implications, monitoring needs, drought risk and vulnerabilities, drought committee and response actions, and drought mitigation and preparedness. One World One Water plans to have the update ready by Summer 2017.