Tour of drought conditions around the state

Brian Kau
Brian Kau
Richard Decoit
Richard Decoit

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HAWAII (KHNL) - Hawaii is headed toward the most severe classification of drought.

Hawaii is one of just 13 states suffering from extreme drought, marked in red on the U.S. Drought Monitor.

East Oahu is the only area now experiencing extreme conditions.

Hard hit are farmers using the Waimanalo irrigation system, forced to cut their water use by 30%, which means a 30% loss in crops and profits.

"They were put on restriction in July of this year. That is very early. If we do end up in 30% restriction, it's usually been around late August or early September," said Brian Kau of the Department of Agriculture.

Chopper 8 off Molokai - a 20% water restriction is in effect for non-homestead customers who use the Molokai irrigation system.

On Maui, severe drought on parts of the island has some ranchers scrambling to find enough green grass for their hungry cattle.

"Dry dry dry, now the cows are starting to lose weight. If the drought keeps going on, and you don't have a place to put them, they're going to die, said Richard Decoit, a Maui rancher.

On Kauai, no water restrictions, but residents are asked to conserve, especially those in East Kilauea.

"We have periods where the usage is abnormally high and so the tank levels become very low so just to ensure that no one is without water, we're just asking for extra conservation in East Kilauea," said Faith Shiramizu of the Kauai Department of Water.

And on the Big Island, customers using the Honolaa-Paauilo irrigation system are asked to voluntarily cut water use by 10%.

Chopper 8 off Lanai - the U.S. Drought Monitor shows conditions there are abnormally dry.

The island's rainfall is less than 50% than normal, from January to July.

The State Commission on Water Resource Management says Lanai's drinking supply is all ground water, which is a little more resilient to drought, and not affected as quickly as streams.