Water Sensor Network

Water Sensor Network

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Proper watershed management requires a thorough understanding of the water and ecosystem quality in the Ala Wai Watershed. Indicators include water depth and flow rates, sediment/turbidity, excess nutrients, chemicals, heavy metals, pathogens, temperature, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll, biodiversity and habitat quality indicators. Water quality in the canal and streams is not currently monitored by the Department of Health, but the University of Hawaii and multiple schools in the watershed are gathering data that can inform decision making. Learn more how volunteers, students, and teachers are providing citizen science data in our Place Based Curricula section!

The University of Hawaiʻi SMART Ala Wai initiative brings together faculty, teachers, and students to develop a network of water quality sensors that gathers continuous data throughout the watershed. The technology required for creating sensors data loggers has become much cheaper, allowing for the deployment of many sensors that can easily be maintained by non-scientists.

In 2010, ‘Iolani School, located between the mouths of the Mānoa, Makiki, and Pālolo Streams, began to observe, collect, and analyze data in and around the Ala Wai Canal and the streams that feed it.  Named the Ala Wai Watershed Project, students continue to engage in real-world research that contributes to the understanding of the current state of the watershed and to the development of responses and solutions.  In addition to independent research, students in ‘Iolani School’s Robotics classes have built a remote-controlled Ala Wai Catamaran and several iterations of drones to collect water samples from the Ala Wai Canal for water quality analysis in the lab. In addition to ongoing water quality monitoring, ‘Iolani School’s Robotics students are designing and fabricating deployed sensors that will transmit data in real time for recording and analysis. ‘Iolani School also convenes Nā Wai ‘Ekolu, educators from institutions throughout the watershed, working closely with stream biologists and researchers at the University of Hawai’i.  Nā Wai ‘Ekolu aims to inspire and encourage schools that care deeply for their place through curriculum development and work in the streams and communities that surround them.

Nā Wai ‘Ekolu is a collective of educators from K-12 and higher education institutions along the Mānoa, Pālolo, and Makiki streams, who care deeply for their watershed through monitoring, research, restoration, and curriculum development with their students. To see the locations where active monitoring and restoration is under way, check out their interactive map!

The Ala Wai Watershed Association is a non-profit founded in 1996 that organizes volunteer, community education, and development activities, and conducts streambank restoration and research. This includes testing different restoration methodologies at Paradise Park in Mānoa to determine the impact of invasive vs. native vegetation on sediment runoff into the streams.

The AWWC’s Working Group on Environmental Quality, Research and Science helps coordinate the stakeholders who are gathering data to compare datasets and fill gaps in our understanding.

Cover photo credit: SMART Ala Wai