Neglect of the islands’ forests would be “suicidal,” for “everything fails with the failure of our water supply”. “Not enough rain and not enough water in the streams are great evils”. Prior to 1820, all of Honolulu’s domestic drinking water was obtained from natural springs and the small river that runs through Nuʻuanu Valley.
The sugar industry, still concerned about water shortages due to forest decline, sought and succeeded in establishing the forest reserve system, which instituted partnerships between public and private landowners to protect forests. Impending crisis also led to the development of groundwater wells (today’s primary source of drinking water in the Islands.)