Waipuilani Mauka: Waipuilani Mauka is a large area dominated by Kiawe and scrub shrubs. It is an original wetland that has remained undeveloped. Over time this area has been surrounded by developments and the hydrology has changed. In general Hawaii is getting drier, and storms are getting stronger. Climate change, droughts, invasive plants, and over-development has put these types of scrub-shrub wetlands in poor condition. However the aquifer remains strong and water continues to flow under the surface. This wetland is subject to rising and falling water tables and is expected to play an increasingly important role as we experience ongoing SLR.
Engineering: The gulches above these wetlands have been heavily engineered, and watercourses have been moved to go around or even underneath housing developments. High above Waipuilani Mauka is an unused 50-foot-acre detention basin, and there are plans to fully divert the local watershed over into another gulch. This kind of engineering has been devastating to the environment and radically alters the functionality of the Watershed. This site shows many of the obvious signs of wetland hydrology such as altered vegetation, mud areas, loose silty soil, and extensive salt-crusted areas, and other indications of pooling waters. This site is most active during rains and has the ability to hold vast quantities of stormwater.
Site Vulnerabilities: Waipuilani Mauka also lies within the wetlands Study Zones of Kolb 1965, Erickson 1991, and now Stw 2021. It also lies within the Maui County Special Management Area (SMA), Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) and the 3.2ft SLR Coastal Hazard Zone. This area and its neighboring sites are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the Coastal hazards due to the effects of Sea Level Rise.
Coastal Hazards due to SLR: As early as 2060 a 3.2ft SLR will put this site within the reach of high waves and coastal inundation due to storm surges, and many of the smaller tsunamis.
The following image shows the proximity and association of Waipuilani Mauka and the local wetlands group.