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Board of Water Supply puts out urgent call for voluntary water conservation on Oahu

With three key wells still shut down because of the Navy water crisis, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply put out an urgent call for voluntary conservation.
Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 10:29 AM HST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2022 at 1:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With three key wells still shut down because of the Navy water crisis, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply is putting out an urgent call for voluntary conservation.

Board of Water Supply Chief Engineer and Manager Ernie Lau said the situation is exacerbated by recent dry weather, which has pushed up demand. “We don’t have all of the supply that we normally would have,” Lau said. “We are concerned as we enter summer that water demand will overtake our available supply.” He added that could lead to localized outages or mandatory conservation.

The agency said the conservation call is directed at urban Honolulu and Aiea-Halawa areas.

The board said it’s seeking a 10% reduction in water usage.

In late 2021, the Board of Water Supply took three key wells offline over fears that the Red Hill fuel contamination in the Navy system could migrate to public sources.

With three key wells still shut down because of the Navy water crisis, the Board of Water Supply is putting out an urgent call for voluntary conservation.

Those wells remain offline and there’s no timeline for bringing them back into service.

Lau said the concern is two-fold: Not only is there less available water to pump, the agency doesn’t want to over-pump the remaining wells for fear of pulling up salt water that’s below the fresh water.

That appeared to have happened recently at the Beretania Wells, where higher-than-normal levels of chloride were recorded ― an indication that the water is saltier.

Several consumers HNN spoke with Wednesday said they plan to abide by the voluntary reduction.

“We can always adapt. If it’s for the betterment of Hawaii residents, I’m all for it,” said Kakaako resident Alex Wong.

Added Ken DeLuca, who is visiting from Cleveland: “I think it’s a simple thing to do to help the common good for all people.”

The call also applies to businesses, who say a short-term reduction won’t have much impact on their operations.

But if a company is forced to reduce its usage for a year or more, it could lead to higher costs.

“If something like the cost of water does go up, then that’s not only going to effect this specific industry but a lot of other businesses,” said Kurt Yoshikawa, manager at McKinley Car Wash.

In a worst-case senario ― with long-term drought conditions and continued disruptions to the board’s Halawa and Aiea water sources ― the BWS could seek a moratorium on water hook up permits for new construction.

Real estate expert Ricky Cassiday said a lengthy moratorium on hookups could lead to work slowdowns and construction job losses.

“With no water, nobody will move in. No completions, no finishing your loan,” he said.

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