(BIVN) – A popular West Hawaiʻi beach is without running water, and state officials are being pressed for answers.
The water system at Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area has been out of order since October of last year, frustrating visitors and residents alike.
On Tuesday, officials with the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources tried to explain the situation to state senators during a committee hearing.
“Right now, the water line is broken,” said Curt Cottrell, the administrator of the Division of State Parks under the Hawaiʻi DLNR. “It’s been breaking since 2018.”
“We’ve shut off the water because the line kept breaking and we spent over $300K over the past several years fixing it,” Cottrell said.
“Why did we wait so long?” asked Hawaiʻi island State Senator Lorraine Inouye. “I think even if we were talking about lack of funding, or the pipes were broken or whatever, but nobody came out to say we need CIP monies earlier in the process.”
“2018 is when the pipes started to rupture,” Cottrell explained, “and then somewhere during that time period – either 2018 or 2019 – we did get CIP for Hāpuna and… it was a little sluggish on the release. We have the release now, but based on the time frame of doing design, reevaluating the pre-existing pipes – which, what I learned, there might have been an issue with the longevity of the product, because we did this in 2009 – so we’ve done a series of repairs thinking that would hold it together while we get the CIP out.”
“Finally we just we threw in the towel, and said we cannot continue to waste money fixing these things,” Cottrell said. “We got the CIP released but then we found out that the time frame is too long, so now we’re looking at contracting an above-ground, temporary pipe. But even that cost – with material costs – will probably exceed the $150(k), so we still got to get governor and (Budget & Finance) approval, which I think, given the severity of the problem, we should be able to expedite.”
“Just to let you know,” Sen. Inouye said, “that it’s unacceptable to have a very important recreational facility like Hāpuna beach on the island, where people come from Hilo… from Puna, to swim and take their families. For visitors. To be on the national register as an important beach to attend and to swim and whatever.”