< < Back to Company Profiles page

Share | |


Fresh Water: From the Mountains To Your Drinking Glass

(page 5 of 8)

Click on the image to see a larger view.


How We Get Our Water

Water production from ancient times to today is the result of our islands’ unique volcanic origins and indigenous vegetation. Hawaii’s fresh water cycle depends on the life-giving rain captured and absorbed by healthy native forests to sustain all of life on our islands:

► 1. Clouds form as trade winds push moist air, created by evaporation of ocean water, over high cool mountain ranges.

► 2. Rain results when saturated cloud vapor condenses to water.

► 3. Ua (rain), beloved by native
Hawaiians as the preserver of the land (kahiko o ke akua), falls on native forest tree leaves and branches, and low spongy growth that thrives on the forest floor. Also, mist passing through the
forest condenses on the leaves, providing
additional water. 

► 4. Rainwater seeps through soil and rock to each island’s natural underground reservoirs formed by lava flows – called aquifers – for storage. Rainwater also nourishes roots in the ground and flows into surface streams.

► 5. The water in underground aquifers pools in large lens-shaped bodies to be tapped by wells and tunnels to supply almost all of our vital drinking water.


We’ve put up close to 20 miles of fencing covering about 5,000 acres of remote watershed areas on Oahu and Kauai to keep out large hoofed animals to protect native trees and vegetation, but also the habitats of endangered species, such as birds. Fencing helps minimize erosion and preserve the quality of the natural water filtering system. An avid hunter and outdoorsman myself, we are very respectful of the recreational aspects of these remote areas.

Stuart Wellington
Owner, Wellington
Fencing Co.
Lihue, Kauai


Kamehameha Schools recognizes that healthy native forested watersheds provide us with a variety of critical services that contribute to the well-being of our beneficiaries and sustain life for all of Hawaii. As such, we greatly value our participation in seven of Hawaii’s regional watershed partnerships, which enable us to leverage ideas, funding and expertise with neighboring landowners to collectively manage threats to our native watersheds on a landscape scale.

Namaka Whitehead
Land Assets Division,
Kamehameha Schools


Fighting fires in our forested watersheds, one of our most important functions, involves fighting fountain grass, a hardy invasive species that comes back to overtake native forest areas destroyed by fire. Since 2006, we’ve fought 36 fires burning 31,000 acres and costing the state alone $2.1 million. We fight back by replanting thousands of trees annually to bring back our forested watersheds. Our Kamuela tree nursery has produced over 1.5 million native and windbreak tree seedlings.

Steve Bergfeld
Division of Forestry
& Wildlife, DLNR,
Hilo, Hawaii

Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

Add your comment:


Don't Miss an Issue!
Hawaii Business,February

Related Articles: Sales - Wai