(BIVN) – Utility services are trying to maintain service to parts of lower Puna, but seem to be losing the battle in the ongoing eruption of the lower East Rift Zone.
Last week, a lava flow severed the water supply to villages downrift, and recently, the Hawai‘i Electric Light Company announced that it will no longer be sending crews to a portion of Leilani Estates and all of Lanipuna Gardens.
HELCO President Jay Ignacio and Hawaii County Water Supply Manager-Chief Engineer Keith Okamoto provided the community an update during Tuesday’s public meeting in Pahoa.
“Unfortunately we do have a little bad news,” Okamoto told the crowd. “That that bypass line that we did run down Pohoiki road was covered by lava on Friday, but prior to that we had already started plans… to outfit the well that’s near Green Lake tank. Unfortunately that well hasn’t been in operation for over 20 plus years, there’s no power to the site, but we’ve already sent crews out there to evaluate the system. We have equipment coming in as we speak. We have crews working on access to the property, so we hope to get that up and running in a matter of about
a week or so.”
“We apologize for for that disruption in service but we’re committed to continue to keep water flowing to those areas of Pohoiki, Kapoho Vacation Land and Beach Lots. As soon as we can get that restored, we’ll get that restored to you folks,” Okamoto said.
On May 19, HELCO announced it is developing contingency plans to provide options for restoring electricity to communities in lower Puna that may be cut off by lava flows.
“For the past week, engineers from Hawai‘i Electric Light and Hawaiian Electric have been analyzing possible scenarios and creating plans that can help power critical infrastructure, such as cell phone towers,” said spokesperson Rhea Lee-Moku. “We’ve developed several plans that can be implemented to provide short-term solutions. Work on long-term solutions will continue and will be dependent on the impact of the lava and other seismic activity in this area, as well as guidance from Civil Defense authorities.”
HELCO siad plans include using traditional power systems such as large capacity diesel generators as well as portable solar-battery-generator units. Options also include the use of steel poles that are able to span lava flows and temporarily connect to undamaged distribution lines.
Hawai‘i Electric Light has created a page on its website for the latest information for customers affected by the eruption and for those who may have questions about billing and service during the emergency.
Another service, Mass Transit, announced that the Pahoa 3 Route will be reinstated, effective Friday, May 25.
“Due to the current volcanic activity, all PAHOA/POHOIKI routes will end at Nanawale Longhouse,” the County reported. “There will be NO stops in Pohoiki, Seaview and Leilani Estates.”