Decision analysis to support wastewater management in coral reef priority area
A cocktail of land-based sources of pollution threatens coral reef ecosystems, and addressing these has become a key management and policy challenge in the State of Hawaiʻi, other US territories, and globally. In West Maui, Hawaiʻi, nearly one quarter of all living corals were lost between 1995 and 2008. Onsite disposal systems (OSDS) for sewage leak contaminants into drinking water sources and nearshore waters. In recognition of this risk, the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health (DOH) is prioritizing areas for cesspool upgrades. Independently, we applied a decision analysis process to identify priority areas to address sewage pollution from OSDS in West Maui, with the objective of reducing nearshore coral reef exposure to pollution. The decision science approach is relevant to a broader context of coastal areas both statewide and worldwide which are struggling with identifying pollution mitigation actions on limited budgets.