Solutions to critical national water issues proposed by UH experts

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Cindy Knapman, (808) 956-7410
Communications Leader, Sea Grant College Program
Posted: Dec 1, 2021

Lo'i kalo at Waipā. Photo by Danielle Kaiolani Loo
Lo'i kalo at Waipā. Photo by Danielle Kaiolani Loo
Waipā Stream. Photo by Danielle Kaiolani Loo
Waipā Stream. Photo by Danielle Kaiolani Loo

Opportunities and solutions for the nation’s most critical water issues are proposed in a published report co-authored by two University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program (Hawai‘i Sea Grant) experts.

The report, “Water Resources Research Act Program—Current Status, Development Opportunities, and Priorities for 2020-30,” is the first vision document for the Water Resources Research Act (WRRA) Program in its 50-year history. It focuses on seven critical challenges: water scarcity and availability; water-related hazards and climate variability; water quality; water policy, planning and socioeconomics; ecosystem and drainage basin functions; water technology and innovation; and workforce development and water literacy.

The vision document was initiated in 2018 at the request of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to guide its WRRA Program and its 54 university-based state institutes and centers for the next 10 years.  

The co-authors of the report, Darren T. Lerner and Mary J. Donohue, engaged the USGS WRRA Program federal coordinator, Earl Greene, all 54 state institutes, and an ad hoc vision committee to articulate the current and future trajectory of the program to maximize its service to our nation.

Lerner, director of Hawai‘i Sea Grant, university consortium director of the Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center, and past interim director of UH Mānoa’s Water Resources Research Center, noted “It is truly a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with all of the WRRA program directors and many of their staff to develop this critical synthesis and pathway forward for the amazing work of these university-based programs in service to communities across the entire U.S.”

Donohue, who serves as Hawai‘i Sea Grant’s program development and national partnership specialist, said “Each of us has, or will soon, be touched by water issues resulting from climate change and other pressures. We urgently need the innovative research conducted by the WRRA Program and the next generation of water professionals it trains to see us through the coming years.”

The USGS WRRA Program delivers university-based research, outreach and education services to citizens in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more than 50 years, the WRRA Program has invested in local, state and regionally focused water-related research, information and technology transfer, and workforce development through student training and professional internships.

Thomas Giambelluca, director of the UH Water Resources Research Center, stated “The WRRA Program is critically important to the nation in providing guidance and financial support for research, outreach and education to address pressing water problems. Hawaiʻi and other island jurisdictions benefit greatly from WRRA-supported work to identify and reduce the impacts of climate change, population growth, species invasion and other threats to water supply.”


The University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program is part of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s prestigious School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. It supports an innovative program of research, education and extension services directed to the improved understanding and stewardship of coastal and marine resources of the state, region and nation. Science serving Hawai‘i and the Pacific since 1968.

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