Water woes continues for North Kona as Ironman, canoe race set to draw thousands

Water woes continues for North Kona as Ironman, canoe race set to draw thousands
Updated: Aug. 29, 2017 at 6:33 PM HST
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NORTH KONA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some residents in North Kona are worried that the region's water crisis will worsen when thousands of visitors arrive soon for the world's largest long distance canoe race and the Ironman triathlon.

Organizers of the Queen Liliuokalani Canoe Race are expecting five thousand visitors, including paddlers, relatives and friends. Race officials are providing bottled water and alerting participants about the emergency water restriction through registration material and the race website.

The four-day event starts August 31st at the Kailua Pier.

"The water usage is limited there anyway. We don't have much access to water. We don't rinse our canoes off," said race director Mike Atwood.

The Ironman World Championship in mid-October also attracts thousands of elite athletes and their supporters.

The race offers bottled water, but some residents are still worried about a potential strain on the water system since five wells are down.

"They'll be filling the restaurants and using the restrooms and using the water, things like that, running the showers up and down Alii Drive," said Kailua-Kona resident Lance Owens, who is also the president-elect of the West Hawaii Association of Realtors.

Department of Water Supply officials don't expect a major disruption based on past consumption and pumping volumes.

"For both months of September and October, we don't notice a significant change from other months," said Keith Okamoto, manager-chief engineer of the Department of Water Supply. "We feel confident that there won't be major impact."

Okamoto said usage trends appear to be tied to the weather.

"Some months you might get more rain and then we'll see pumping and consumption levels go down," he explained.

DWS officials expect to find out on August 31st if the motor from the Honokohau well can be quickly fixed in Arizona and installed by mid-September. If the problem is complicated, repairs could take three to four weeks, according to Okamoto.

In the meantime, with irrigation prohibited, some residents looking to sell their homes are having a tough time.

"Curb appeal is everything, and if you've got a desert out in front of your house and plants that are wilting, it's not good," said Owens.

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