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DLNR NEWS RELEASE: DLNR, The Coca-Cola Company & Ko`olau Mountains Watershed Partnership announce new water replenishment project

Posted on Apr 11, 2017 in Latest Department News

Coca-Cola Grant to help restore, protect Waiawa watershed

(HONOLULU) – Today, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, The Coca-Cola Company and the Ko’olau Mountains Watershed Partnership announced plans for a new replenishment project designed to help restore and recharge the Waiawa watershed which supplies the majority of O’ahu’s drinking water.

Coca-Cola contributed a $200,000 grant to the Ko‘olau Mountains Watershed Partnership (KMWP) which will help fund the construction of a 6.6 mile-long protective fence in the Waiawa rain forest. The fence will help protect the watershed by preventing invasive plants and animals from degrading the forest surrounding it. Invasive species limit the ability of the watershed to recharge. Fencing also helps to preserve the native flora and fauna.

The forests in the Mauka regions of Waiawa in the central Koʻolaus comprise some of the most important watersheds on the island of Oʻahu. The Waiawa watershed is the principle recharge area for the Pearl Harbor Aquifer, which supplies the majority of the drinking water for communities across O‘ahu; more than 364 million gallons each day. Under the Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative, the State hopes to protect 253,000 acres of critical watershed like Waiawa.

“This funding from The Coca-Cola Company brings us that much closer to achieving the Sustainable Hawaiʻi Initiative, which includes our commitment to protect 30% of Hawaiʻi’s priority watersheds by 2030,” explained Governor David Ige. “We’ve always said this goal will take a broad and engaged cross-section of people and partnerships. We value and appreciate the Coca-Cola Company’s contribution to this crucial effort toward helping protect water as the lifeblood of these islands.”

Protection and management of this area is a priority for the State of Hawaiʻi. This partnership project will lead to the protection of 1,400 acres of priority watershed which is comprised of 1,000 acres of Kamehameha Schools land to the north and 400 acres of state land in the Ewa Forest Reserve to the south.

The Coca-Cola Company’s engagement is part of a growing corporate commitment from Hawai‘i’s economic community to contribute to the natural resources it depends on and benefits from. Freshwater replenishment is necessary for beverage production. In addition, Hawai‘i’s unique ecosystems provide biodiversity protection and aesthetic value to terrestrial and reef areas as the basis for the state’s attractiveness to millions of visitors.  Other crucial functions include soil protection for sustained agricultural productivity and carbon storage for climate change mitigation. DLNR is ready to provide opportunities for private support through tailored partnerships that ensure measurable, effective, and independently verified impacts.  Another example for such partnership opportunities is the recently launched large-scale forest carbon project that allows partners to offset carbon emissions through reforestation.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case commented, “The DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) has assigned its highest conservation value to the Waiawa forest, which gives it the greatest level of protection and management, with fencing as a high priority. The $200,000 grant from Coke will be added to $100,000 from the Honolulu Board of Water Supply and $100,000 from State watershed capital improvement projects funding. We continue to collaborate with the State Legislature in seeking $800,000 to complete the Waiawa fence. This project will be a big step forward toward achieving Governor Ige’s 30X30 watershed protection goals.”

Working together to manage Hawai’i’s forested watersheds involves multiple partners. Community water stewards all play a role through funding, volunteering, and planning. They share their thoughts below:


Bruce Karas, vice president of Environment and Sustainability, Coca-Cola North America explained, “This watershed belongs to the local community and as community members we want to help ensure this precious resource is sustainable for future generations. The Ko’olau Mountains Watershed is among more than 100 community watershed projects that Coca-Cola supports throughout the country to help us continue to replenish 100 percent of the water that we use in our beverages and return it to communities and nature.”


“The water flowing from the Ko’olau Mountains is a precious resource that impacts the daily lives of many people on Oahu,” said U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Randy Moore. “This project will allow the Forest Service to work with our partners from DLNR and Coca-Cola to help restore the health and sustainability of this critical watershed. The health of forests and communities is paramount to the mission of the U.S. Forest Service.”


Ernest Lau, Manager and Chief Engineer of the Board of Water Supply (BWS) stated, “The Board of Water Supply is committed to supporting watershed protection that sustains high quality drinking water sources for Oahu’s residents. The funds BWS provided for this project will go toward the purchase of fence material which will be used to protect intact native forests in the Ko‘olau Mountains. We greatly appreciate the work that DLNR, KMWP and Coca-Cola are doing and are proud to be a part of it.”

Katie Ersbak, DOFAW watershed planner added, Water is the most precious resource on the planet. Thanks to the support of public and private partners like Coca-Cola and groups like the statewide Watershed Partnerships, we can maintain healthy forests that are critical to Hawaii’s supply of fresh, clean water.”

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(Video and Images courtesy: Hawai‘i DLNR)


Video news release-Waiawa Rain Forest/In Their Own Words:


HD video of Waiawa rain forest and sound bites (shot sheet attached):


High resolution photographs of Waiawa rain forest:


HD video of news conference and SOTS:

Link to follow


For more on The Coca-Cola Company’s water stewardship & replenishment initiatives:


Map of Coke National Water Replenish Activities:



For more on the Ko‘olau Mountains Watershed Partnership:


For more on watersheds and the Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative:×30-Watershed-Forests_FINAL.pdf.


For more on opportunities to partner with the State and on support for Hawai‘i’s ecosystems:



Media Contacts:

Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources

Dan Dennison

Senior Communications Manager

Office of the Chairperson

(808) 587-0407

[email protected]



The Coca-Cola Company

Kirsten Witt

Coca-Cola North America

[email protected]