Navy to get violation notice for over-pumping its only Oahu drinking water source

In a public meeting, the Navy admitted violating its state water use permit and critics are outraged, especially when everyone is being asked to conserve water.
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 5:38 PM HST|Updated: May. 25, 2022 at 6:01 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Commission on Water Resource Management will issue a notice of violation to the Navy for over-pumping its Waiawa shaft ― in a situation that environmentalists call worrisome.

The Waiawa shaft is now the Navy’s only drinking water source.

The Red Hill and Aiea-Halawa wells were shut down due to fuel contamination from the Red Hill Bulk Storage Fuel Facility.

In a Navy presentation to the commission last week, it acknowledged it was pumping more than the permitted amount of water from the Waiawa shaft. It’s allowed to pump 15 million gallons a day from the shaft each day.

It’s 12-month average is about 1 million gallons per day more than that.

“This is a violation of their water use permit and the commission will be issuing a notice of violation that will require them to reduce their pumpage to within their permitted allocation,” said Kaleo Manual, a water deputy with the body.

The state stays violations may be subject to fine up to $5,000 and each day is a separate violation.

The Navy says it’s trying to conserve water by reducing irrigation and monitoring how much it pumps on a daily basis.

“We are still over our water use permit level, but when compare that with normal consumption of a year ago we are down over 20 percent,” said Capt. Randall Harmeyer,Public Works Officer, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command.

It’s also pumping and filtering up to five million gallons a day out of its Red Hill well to get out the contamination and dumping that filtered water in to Halawa Stream.

Critics call that a waste.

“The Navy is continuing to act in bad faith after poisoning our aquifer,” said Dr. Kamanamaikalani Beamer, former state water commissioner.

He believes the Navy is being negligent.

“They are sort of manipulating their ability to pump. The water commission uses a 12-month rolling average so they are over-pumping in certain months and then they’re trying to make up for it and under pump,” said Beamer.

Marti Townsend, former director of Sierra Club Hawaii, called the Navy’s over-pumping “outrageous.”

“It’s just so rich that the Navy feels like they can overtake from their water use permit when everybody else is asked to conserve,” she said.

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