As Red Hill crisis drags on, Board of Water Supply races to drill new wells
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly a year after the Red Hill crisis began, three of Oahu’s most vital water sources remain shut down in a bid to prevent contamination from spreading.
Now, the Board of Water Supply is racing to find land and drill new wells outside the contamination zone.
It’s not a speedy process.
Board of Water Supply officials say it will take a minimum of five years to bring a new water source online ― and that’s a best-case scenario.
The Navy fuel leak prompted the closure of the Halawa shaft, Aiea well and the Halawa well. The water sources play a major role in feeding the taps in urban Honolulu, Aiea and Halawa.
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On Monday, BWS Program Administrator for the Water Quality Division Erwin Kawata said the agency has identified five potential sites for exploratory wells.
“It’s about drilling a well. Inserting a pump and seeing whether or not there’s enough water. What the quality is. And if the well is really viable,” said Kawata.
All of the proposed sites are north or north west of Red Hill on Board of Water Supply property.
Two of the locations are in Aiea Heights.
One is at the end of Kaonohi Street in the mountains above Pearl Country Club. The Waimalu and Newtown sites are in the area of Pearl City.
“The idea here is we want to stay well above the Pearl Harbor area so we want to go inland,” Kawata said.
“But there is a tradeoff. The father inland we go, the deeper you have to drill the well and the most costly it becomes. And the more complicated the construction becomes.”
Officials say the majority of the sites are in the design and permitting process.
The Aiea 497 location is slightly farther along but still years from possibly being brought online.
“A new water source can take anywhere from five to seven years to actually put in. From the start of exploratory well phase, all the way to final production well,” Kawata said.
Construction of the exploratory wells likely won’t be done simultaneously because of the limited number of well drilling companies on the island.
And the cost of a new well can run up to $10 million. In the meantime, the Board of Water Supply continues to ask its users to voluntarily cut water consumption by 10%.
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