With water restrictions possible, BWS eyes worsening drought with concern

East Oahu is under moderate drought and Windward Oahu is abnormally dry.
Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 5:37 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With three public water wells shut down because of the Navy’s tainted water crisis, water restrictions this summer are a real possibility.

And on Monday, Board of Water Supply members learned the weather is making the situation worse.

“The Leeward side has advanced to severe drought,” said Barry Usagawa, BWS program administrator.

He said east Oahu is under moderate drought and Windward Oahu is abnormally dry.

“We anticipate this getting worse during the summer,” he said.

On Friday, the Navy decided to end its federal and state appeals of the state’s emergency order requiring the Navy to empty the Red Hill fuel tanks.

The Department of Defense had previously pledged to do that.

“We are happy that the Department of Justice and the US Navy decided to withdraw their appeal of the state Department of Health emergency order,” said Ernie Lau, BWS manager and chief engineer.

Lau had previously expressed concern that the fuel contamination could be spreading.

The Department of Health said that as of April 11, data showed fuel was detected around the Red Hill facility but “the groundwater contaminant plume appears to be stable and possibly contracting.”

“We will continue to conduct oversight to make sure that Red Hill is safely defueled and decommissioned and we also continue to monitor what’s happening in the aquifer and understand how we can continue to keep our drinking water safe,” said Katie Arita-Chang, DOH spokesperson.

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