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UH brings Red Hill water crisis information hub live

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, O‘ahu — Nearly two years after residents in and around Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam first reported chemical contamination in their tap water, The University of Hawai‘i Red Hill (Kapukaki) Task Force (RHTF) has created an online data center to keep residents up to date on the water crisis’s latest information and resources.

The Red Hill Information Hub is a UH system-wide effort led by the RHTF, which operates out of the UH Manoa Water Resources Research Center (WRRC). Supported by the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center and members of both UH Manoa and Leeward Community College, the site serves as a one-stop shop for information and resources regarding the Red Hill water crisis.

“This knowledge product directly addresses the expressed data needs of community members, builds on and complements existing data gathering efforts led by state and federal agencies, and is a safe space for robust, accurate and objective information,” said WRRC director Thomas Giambelluca.

One of the information hub’s primary functions, the Red Hill Data Dashboard is an interactive set of maps designed to help explain the impacts of the November 2021 fuel spill.

Using WRRC’s 236 tap water samples from 18 sampling zones, one map highlights where the research center detected fuel contamination.

The dashboard also shows how seven of O‘ahu’s public schools on the Navy Water System may have had their water compromised, potentially affecting around 3,300 students.

Finally, the dashboard’s third map highlights indicators of social vulnerability on O‘ahu, showing where tens of thousands of residents lacking access to medical care and/or having limited ability to speak English reside.

“The information hub is purpose-built to proactively and adaptively respond to the communities’ needs,” said Mia Comeros, WRRC Red Hill research project coordinator. “We operationalize this through meticulous planning and an ongoing process of consultation, review and reporting to RHTF members, contributors and community members.”

The information hub also provides users with live updates on the water crisis, from defueling efforts to community representation opportunities, as well as a news feed of Red Hill-related articles from various media outlets.

In addition to providing contamination data and news updates, RHTF included a litany of educational resources to provide background information on the subject. Ranging from historical and regional contexts to technical details on toxic substances and student projects on the water crisis, the task force emphasized the importance of understanding the water crisis from a broader scope.

“We wanted to really help the public and provide them with general educational resources — not only on Red Hill, but centered on water contamination and water security in the face of climate change for Hawai‘i,” said Cuong Tran, Red Hill Information Hub co-lead developer.

Finally, the information hub also presents opportunities for members of the public to participate in site management and cleanup efforts, providing both a WRRC water screening request form and links to multiple organizations engaged in Pu‘uloa restoration efforts, as well as showcasing the dates of upcoming public meetings for state and federal agencies related to Red Hill and the water crisis.

While several organizations — including the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center, UH School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, and UH Thompson School of Social Work &Public Health — have contributed significantly to the information hub already, UH has said it intends to update the information as needed to meet the needs of the community.

“I think it’s important to know that this hub is really primarily built to help the public and that it is a work in progress, and we are looking for public feedback to continue to improve,” said Lisa Webster, Red Hill Information Hub co-lead developer.

For more information, visit the Red Hill Information Hub at redhill.hawaii.edu.

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Jackson Healy, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-4966 or jhealy@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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