Aikahi residents plead for replacement of aging, 'patched-up' water main

Betty Hearst
Betty Hearst

KAILUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's a recurring problem that's causing headaches for a Windward Oahu neighborhood. Weary residents watched Saturday as crews repaired an aging water main that's already been fixed two other times this month.

Nunu Street residents are not happy that replacing the old pipeline with a new one is not high on the Honolulu Board of Water Supply's priority list.

Board of Water Supply trucks, construction equipment and water wagons have become familiar sights on Nunu Street in Kailua. Residents of the small neighborhood have endured three water main breaks in two weeks.

"I would like to see them put down a whole new road of new pipes rather than just patch it," Betty Hearst, Nunu Street resident, said. "I mean, you can see it's like 50 feet apart from one patch to the other."

The eight-inch pipe burst at about 9 AM, leaving more than a dozen homes without water service. The same line ruptured on Wednesday and last week Thursday.

"There's no storm drains, so the water just goes wherever the water goes," Hearst said. "It's gotten into at least four houses."

"We're really sorry for the inconvenience experienced by the residents," Kurt Tsue, Honolulu Board of Water Supply, said. "We really appreciate their patience in bearing with us as we repair the pipeline. Obviously this is something that nobody likes to deal with."

The main was installed in 1955, making it 57 years old. Crews discovered something more while excavating.

"There are a lot of trees in this area, so what we're noticing is some root intrusion from the trees," Tsue said. "So obviously those may have been factors in what is causing these breaks."

Unfortunately for Hearst and her neighbors, Nunu Street is currently not on the Board of Water Supply's six-year capital improvements plan.

Water officials say they consider many factors when prioritizing their pending projects, which also include improvements to other components of the system, such as water treatment facilities, pumps and reservoirs.

"Every year, we re-evaluate our capital program," Tsue said. "We may have a six-year plan right now for how we're going to be using our capital funding. Every year, we re-look at the projects and we re-prioritize based on need."

Water service was restored just before 2:30 PM. Hearst says she is grateful for the repair workers.

"I think they do a tremendous job," she said. "It's the people that decide what gets replaced as opposed to what gets patched that we have a problem with."

As far as priority items, water officials say pipeline improvements in Liliha, on Ward Avenue and on Kona Street are among the projects scheduled for this fiscal year.

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