KAILUA-KONA — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program has sent a roughly $100,000 grant to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources for its Division of State Parks to install water bottle filling stations in 15 state parks across the islands over the next three years.
Parks on Hawaii Island set to receive filling stations include Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area, Kekaha Kai State Park, Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park and Wailoa Center at Wailoa River State Recreation Area.
According to a DLNR release, the goal of the project is to reduce the use of single-use plastic water bottles, which can become marine debris and harm Hawaii’s environment and marine life.
Beyond the filling stations, the project also includes interpretive signs and the creation of an educational video, brochures, social media and web posts about the harmful impacts of marine debris as well as how residents and visitors can help reduce debris created in Hawaii, the release said.
The NOAA grant will be used to purchase a total of 19 water bottle filling stations. State Parks will use Capitol Improvement Project funds to install the stations. Additionally State Parks will coordinate several beach clean-ups over the three-year period to address the accumulation of marine debris in coastal parks. Clean-up schedules will be posted on the State Parks website and volunteers will be invited to help.
“State Parks is excited to be able to play a role in helping to reduce plastic debris by providing these water bottle filling stations,” said Curt Cottrell, DLNR State Parks Administrator. “With over 11 million people using our parks annually, we have the potential to change behavior and make a difference in the use of single-use water bottles statewide.”
There is currently only one filling station and it’s located at Diamond Head State Monument on Oahu. Its heavy use by hikers is indicative of the benefits expanding these station locations across the islands will provide. Many of these water bottle filling stations will replace existing water fountains at park restrooms and pavilions so minimal disturbance is anticipated, the release stated.
To comply with the federal grant requirements, State Parks is asking for public comment on any concerns, particularly in regard to cultural sites that could be affected. The DLNR asks those interested to provide comments by Nov. 30 and direct them to Martha Yent, State Parks Interpretive Program, at 1151 Punchbowl St. #310, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached via email at Martha.E.Yent@hawaii.gov.