Statewide Drought Forces Mandatory Water Reduction

HAWAII (KHNL) - It's only about two weeks into summer, but dry conditions sweep across our state.

The Big Island of Hawaii and Maui are hardest hit. Some recent rain on the windward side of the Big Island has moved that area into the abnormally dry category. Government trackers say the west side is experiencing moderate drought, while the area around Waimea is experiencing severe drought.

Maui, Molokai and Lanai have pockets of moderate to severe drought. On Oahu and Kauai conditions are rated from abnormally dry to moderate drought.

And the drought has already affected folks across the state through voluntary and even some mandatory water restrictions.

Just Friday, the state mandates a 20 percent reduction in water use for Waimanalo irrigation on Oahu. This follows mandatory reduction in parts of Maui and the Big Island.

Maui is going through a dry summer. So dry, mandatory water restrictions are in place for part of the island.

"The drought condition right now is at ten percent mandatory cut back and that area affected is upcountry Maui," said Mahina Martin, public information officer for the County of Maui. "We're pretty fortunate it's not here on the west side, but as you can see the west side is fairly dry."

The perfect fuel for the flames that have burned this Olowalu hillside for three days.

And here on Oahu, we face similar conditions. A brown hillside on the Waianae coast shows how dry this year has been.

"It seems to get worse: heat, drought, no rain," said Kalei Kahoali'i, a Maili resident.

It's these factors that are blamed for Friday's mandatory 20 percent reduction at Waimanalo irrigation.

It only affects farms for now. But on the Big Island, there's a mandatory 25 percent reduction in drinking water for Waimea residents. Officials say it's never too early to start water conservation.

"The more people conserve now, the better off we'll be later on, if in fact the situation gets worse," said Su Shin, chief communication officer for the Board of Water Supply.

Residents hope that doesn't happen.

"Everybody has to shower and wash clothes, things we do with water," said Kahoali'i. "So, when that happens, it gets kind of scary. Like, what's going to happen next?"

That's the big question for everyone throughout the state.

There are simple things people can do now to start conserving water, like not letting the faucet run when brushing your teeth, and only watering your lawn during off peak hours.