Hawaii Department of Water Supply Apologizes – Special Community Forum July 20th

“The current conditions are critical and we need to act now to prevent a potential catastrophe.”  ~ State Senator Josh Green

Due to the emergency nature of the current and prolonged water restrictions in North Kona and the greater Kona area, we have scheduled this special forum event during the normal West Hawaii Forum series summer break of July-August.   July 20, 2017 at 6pm West Hawaii Community Center

During this forum, we expect officials from DWS to explain the how and why of the current water emergency.

We will also explore, with the help of our community forum audience;

  1. why the agency was not better prepared for critical equipment failures and service disruptions,
  2. why it will take nearly an entire year to fully restore water service to the Kona area,
  3. the lessons learned from this experience and prevention plans to avoid potential future service disruptions and impaired operations.
  4. And we will also explore DWS power dependency and relationship to customer water supply services.

The seriousness of the current area water emergency cannot be emphasized enough.

The Forum’s featured speakers include:

Keith Okamoto, Manager and Chief Engineer of Department of Water Supply along with Kawika Uyehara, DWS Deputy, Kurt Inaba, Head of Engineering, and Clyde Young, DWS Lead Mechanical Engineer.

This forum will feature a new and improved audio listening experience. We look forward to seeing you there.

Due to the emergency nature of the current and prolonged water restrictions in North Kona and the greater Kona area, we have scheduled this special forum event during the normal West Hawaii Forum series summer break of July-August.  We will examine the seriousness of an ongoing water emergency and corresponding water restrictions impacting the Kona area.

Since January 2017, when equipment failures at four separate area well sites required the Department of Water Supply (DWS) to declare a water emergency and implement area water restrictions, things just seem to go from bad to worse. By March, the West Hawaii Today reported..“Water restriction in North Kona expected to continue indefinitely”…

Most recently, in June, and with an increased sense of urgency, Hawaii County officials reiterated earlier DWS requests calling for customers in North Kona to reduce water usage due to ongoing repairs of four different wells or face water service disruptions.

By late June, the Department of Water Supply continued repeating their message that a mandatory 25 percent water restriction remains in effect.   DWS added, however, … “monitoring over the past several months indicates little to no change in water usage. It is extremely urgent that all customers reduce their water use by 25% to ensure continued water service to all customers in the Kona community, your help is needed. Please do your part”.

The water emergency became a crisis when on June 29th a fifth (5th) well serving the Kona area failed.

The failure of a fifth well in the same area where four other wells are already out-of-service put customers from Keauhou to Kona Airport and Honalo to Makalei in a near-dire situation.  Repairs on the fifth source, the Keahuolū well, could take a week and a half to fix, water officials say.  DWS has since established  temporary and emergency Public Potable Water Distribution Stations on Ane Keohokalole Highway between the West Hawaii Civic Center and Kealakehe High School, as well as on Hina Lani between Anini St. and Manu Mele St.

Residents in the affected area must restrict water use to health and safety needs of drinking, cooking, and sanitation only. The Department of Water Supply says it is monitoring water usage and wasteful water use will be subject to further water restrictions and possible water shutoff.

The current and extreme DWS water restrictions are expected to be eased, if the present repair schedule holds.  The original water restriction, posted June 9, which asked for a 25 percent reduction in water consumption, and is projected by DWS to be reinstated before mid-July.

During this forum, we expect officials from DWS to explain the how and why of the current water emergency.

We will also explore, with the help of our community forum audience, why the agency was not better prepared for critical equipment failures and service disruptions, why it will take nearly an entire year to fully restore water service to the Kona area, and the lessons learned from this experience and prevention plans to avoid potential future service disruptions and impaired operations. And we will also explore the dependency between water supply and power.

The seriousness of the current area water emergency cannot be emphasized enough.

In DWS’s own words…“A hiccup in power supply taking even one well offline for as little as a few hours could cause a dramatic drop in tank levels and prove the impetus for drastic changes in water availability.”

Join us July 20, 2017 at 6pm West Hawaii Community Center

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