June 17, 2011 at 3:59 PM HST - Updated June 24 at 5:34 AM
By Brooks Baehr - bio | email
LILIHA (HawaiiNewsNow) – No more cold showers at Mayor Wright Housing. Some residents had gone seven long years without reliable hot water at the state owned low income housing development in Liliha, but new gas fueled tankless water heaters have been installed on all buildings and the state said Friday all 364 units should now have hot water day and night.
"Before was kind of junk. We had to take the pot and boil water and take a bath like that, but now, no need to that. Just go in the shower and take a bath. It's perfect now," said Mayor Wright resident Mike Ricarte.
All 35 buildings at Mayor Wright had solar water heaters, but when the sun went down and the reserves were depleted a majority of units had only cold water. At night and in the morning before school and work residents had to endure cold showers.
Governor Neil Abercrombie met with residents in March and promised to fix the problem. Three months later it is done.
"The governor, like the Department of Human Services, was stunned to hear that this was of such long standing nature - some 7 plus years - and once it was brought to the governor's attention it became a priority for him," said Pat McManaman, Director of the Department of Human Services.
At Abercrombie's direction the state spent about $500,000 purchasing and installing the tankless heaters. The contract for the work called for all of the buildings to have the new equipment functional by July 18, but the bulk of the work was finished a month ahead of schedule. All that is left to do is add new insulation to pipes.
The tankless heaters are a temporary solution. The long term fix, and more, is coming.
"The Governor had placed in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year approximately $5.6 million. We'll go in, we'll do the permanent configuration for the hot water system at Mayor Wrights. We're also going to be making …other remediation efforts. We'll be painting the buildings. We'll be working with the tenants on their security issues," McManaman told Hawaii News Now.
"It's a lot better than it was. I can't really complain. I'm thankful that they are at least working on it and we're getting some results," said resident Rico Golden.
McManaman said the state will soon send people door to door to make sure all hot water needs are being met.
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