Water Diversion: Assessing Optimal Flow for Sustaining Populations of the Endangered Hawaiian Stilt

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In Hawai‘i, watersheds are an important natural resource, providing ecosystem services to  residents, including irrigation for agriculture, as well as habitat for native species. On the windward side of O‘ahu, an irrigation system diverts water from Maunawili Watershed into Waimanalo for agricultural use. Kawainui Marsh, a large component of Maunwili Watershed, provides primary nesting and foraging habitat for Hawaii’s native waterfowl, including three endangered species. In this study we are evaluating trade-offs between ecosystem services provided by Kawainui Marsh and economic changes in Waimanalo agriculture due to the transfer of water. Results from this study may be used to inform watershed management decisions in Hawai‘i, and may be applied to other watersheds with similar management tradeoffs.