Dry Times: Waimea Water System in Conservation Mode

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Continuing dry conditions and corresponding high water usage have prompted the county Department of Water Supply to remind the public about the voluntary water conservation notice in effect for much of South Kohala.

The affected areas include Waimea town down to Kawaihae.

DWS chief Quirino Antonio said the total water available in the Waimea reservoirs is down to about half of total capacity.

Quirino Antonio, manager of the Department of Water Supply. Photo by Dave Smith.

Quirino Antonio, manager of the Department of Water Supply. Photo by Dave Smith.

“We’re seeing some drop in the reservoirs,” he said, adding that the department is hoping that conservation efforts by the public will help bring the levels up.

A mandatory conservation notice will be enacted if the voluntary efforts are not enough to stem the current high usage levels, water department officials said.

The department’s current goal is a 10% reduction of usage.

There are three 50-million-gallon reservoirs in the Waimea system, although one of them is out of commission as a result of damage from the 2006 Kiholo Bay earthquake.

Two were initially damaged but one has since been repaired. Repair work on the other is in the design phase.

The reservoirs are fed primarily by treated water from streams and supplemented by a deep well.

Because of high usage levels, the drought-reduced stream flow is unable to keep up with demand, Antonio said.

The National Weather System listed that part of the island as being under “extreme” drought in 2012, which is the second-most serious condition.

This year, the weather service’s gauges in the area show about half of normal rainfall levels for the area through the end of March, the latest period for which data is available.

The department’s recommendations for conservation include:

  • Wash full loads of laundry and dishes only
  • Serve drinking water only when requested
  • Do not let the faucet run unnecessarily
  • When bathing, use water only to wet and rinse off
  • Do not fill up the bathtub
  • Use a glass to rinse when brushing your teeth
  • Do not flush toilets unnecessarily
  • Stop lawn sprinkling
  • Stop car and boat washing
  • Stop dust control watering
  • Use drinking water wisely

To reduce water loss from evaporation and to minimize drain on the system during peak demand, the department requests that agricultural users only at night from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

For information, call Chief of Operations Daryl Ikeda at 961-8790.


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