(BIVN) – An Emergency Water Restriction notice has been issued for North Kona after a fifth water well went down.
The Hawaii County Department of Water Supply announced in a notice issued on Thursday that the Keahuolū Deepwell is out of service.
“ALL residents and customers in North Kona must immediately restrict water use to health and safety needs (drinking, cooking and sanitary purposes) only,” the water supply message declared. “Cease all irrigation activities.”
UPDATE – A later county message specified North Kona customers in the area from Keauhou to Keahole and Honalo to Makalei must cease all other non-essential water use including all irrigation and washing of vehicles and boats.
Previously, repair work on four wells – Hualālai Deepwell, Keōpū Deepwell, Palani Deepwell, and the Wai’aha Deepwell – necessitated a mandatory 25% percent water restriction for the North Kona area. However, monitoring over the past several months indicated little to no change in water usage. At that time, officials said “it is extremely urgent that all customers reduce their water use by 25 percent,” to ensure continued water service to all customers in the Kona community.
Now that the Keahuolū Deepwell is out of service, the situation has become dire.
The county says the cause of the latest well failure is being assessed to determine what needs to be done and how long it will take to repair. “Adjustments to the water system have been made to provide customers a minimum level of water service,” the county says. “Without everyone’s cooperation, there will be areas that will experience periodic loss of water service or lower water pressures.”
Water Supply says it will be suspending service to all temporary service and irrigation accounts as well as actively restricting specific accounts due to exorbitant water use.
UPDATE – The county suggests conserving water by flushing toilets less often and taking shorter showers. “We also recommend that residents store a supply of water (5-10 gallons) for basic household needs, such as flushing toilets, hygiene and consumption in the event of service disruption,” county officials say.
In order to help meet general customer demand, Water Supply has established public potable water distribution stations at the following locations:
- Ane Keohokalole Hwy. between Kealakehe Parkway and Kealakehe High School
- Hina Lani Street, between Anini Street and Manu Mele Street.
On June 26, before the Keahuolū Deepwell went out of service, Water Supply posted this FAQ on its website:
Why does it take so long to repair a well?
Each well we operate is designed around specific factors such as, but not limited to; elevation of the well, depth to water, total height the water needs to be lifted, pumping capacity (gallons per minute), incoming electrical power requirements, etc. Thus, for the most part the pumps and motors for the wells cannot be easily interchanged or repositioned around the island. The North Kona mauka wells, which are currently under repair, are more than 1,500 feet deep, which make them some of the deepest wells in the state.
Once the scope of well repairs has been determined, procured, and a contract is awarded, the contractor can proceed to order the pump and/or motor. All of the pump and motor manufacturers are located on the mainland and don’t stock these custom assembled equipment on-hand. Once the pump and/or motor is ordered it takes approximately six (6) months to acquire the correct parts, build the equipment, and then test it prior to shipment. Below is a photo of a North Kona pump.
Why did four (4) wells need repair at the same time?
Please note that the four (4) wells did not fail at the same time, but due to repair times described above, they are in various stages of repair. These four (4) wells failed for a variety of different reasons, however timing of the well repairs was very unfortunate. The four (4) wells and their associated completion dates are listed below:
Wai’aha – July 31, 2017
Palani – October 30, 2017
Hualālai – November 26, 2017
Keōpū – December 20, 2017
In an effort to expedite repairs to the North Kona wells, the Department is working closely with the well contractors and manufacturers for the pump and motors to prioritize these jobs. Our Contractors and their respective manufacturers have provided their best effort to expedite their schedules for these critical projects as much as possible. We have instructed the Contractors to complete as much of the preparation work for installation prior to the delivery of the final pieces of equipment to reduce the time required for installation work. Additionally, the Department is air freighting these materials, to minimize the delivery time of equipment.
Why did the wells fail?
These particular pump and motors are mechanical and electrical equipment submerged in fresh water over 1,500 feet down into the earth. Because the equipment has to run up to 24 hours per day, 7 days a week to meet the region’s water demand, the equipment and its components have an expected life span of 5-7 years. In this case, a few of the wells did not last as long as anticipated. In addition, there are sometimes fluctuations in the electrical power quality which could adversely affect the equipment.
Why doesn’t DWS have spare pumps and motors? What is DWS doing so this doesn’t happen again?
Currently, DWS possesses a spare pump and motor for the Keahuolū Well. DWS is also currently procuring a spare pump and motor for another key North Kona well, one South Kona well, and one Ka’ū well. DWS also has a limited inventory of spare pumps and motors currently in storage for other locations around the island.
DWS has or will be installing devices that monitor pump runtimes and incoming electrical power in order to proactively anticipate potential equipment failures and then plan for their timely repairs. In addition, variable frequency drives, which adjust the pumpage rates based on demand, and other protective equipment have or will be installed in an effort to extend the pumping equipment’s life span.
What are you doing about people not complying who are using a lot of water?
Due to the serious nature of this situation, the County Civil Defense Agency will be asked to assist in coordinating with Police, Fire and other Departments to identify any abuse, and issue warnings to customers using too much water. These abuses will be reported to the Department of Water Supply, which may discontinue water service to abusers who disregard the warning.
Does DWS use County Real Property tax revenue for these well repair projects?
No. The DWS does not use any of the County’s annual budget or funds for its operations. The DWS generates its own fund from its accounts and ratepayers. The DWS uses its own budget to fund these well repair projects.
If another well source goes down, what will happen? How will I be affected?
DWS has developed contingency plans for such an event. Although the overall goal is to minimize disruptions to water service, inevitably, this event will require some form of rotating water shut-offs. The DWS will provide water tanker trucks in or as near as feasible to the affected area(s).
“Report any observed wasteful use of water to the DWS at 961-8060 or 961-8790,” Water Supply says.
For information, you can visit the DWS website at hawaiidws.org. You can also call the Department of Water Supply at 961-8060 for more information or to report wasteful water use during normal business hours of 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For after-hours emergencies, please call 961-8790.