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Seem Familiar? Kona Well Failures, Water Restrictions Nothing New

By Tom Hasslinger
June 7, 2022, 5:00 PM HST
* Updated June 7, 2:48 PM
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If mandatory water restrictions in North Kona sound familiar, they should.

From 2017 to 2018, a number of well failures across West Hawai‘i prompted a water restriction in North Kona that lasted over a year.

On Monday, the Department of Water Supply reported that a mechanical issue at the Hualālai Deepwell is necessitating a mandatory 25% water restriction for several areas in North Kona without specifying how long the restriction will last.

Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for DWS, said that a pump motor for the well failed and, as was the case during the 2017 series of issues, the part must be custom-made before it can be replaced.

Ordering specialty parts was one of the factors that led to the prolonged restriction six years ago, as chronicled by reporter Max Dible at the time, but back then, multiple wells failed around the same time.

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In the latest instance, Snyder said that the process to obtain the part is being fast-tracked as much as possible.

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“We are expediting the process as much as we can to get the well back up,” she told Big Island Now.

But what does a mandatory water restriction look like?

The department is asking customers from refraining from irrigating, washing cars, and engaging in other unnecessary water uses while the water restriction is in effect. Taking short showers, hand-washing dishes, fixing leaky toilets and turning off the faucet while brushing teeth are easy ways to reduce water use as well.

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And while the department can monitor water usage to gauge compliance, Snyder said people generally comply on their own, meaning the department doesn’t need to intervene much.

“People tend to cooperate for the good of the community,” Snyder said. “Customer meters tell us how much usage there is, and we monitor for high usage in any case; we notify customers when there’s high usage so they can check for leaks.”

The department does have the ability to shut off water for people who don’t comply with the mandatory restriction, but Snyder said that is always the least preferred option for all the parties involved.

“Excessive water usage in the time of water restriction could lead to shutoff, but it’s always a last resort,” she said. “DWS believes in collaboration with our customers.”

The affected areas are Makalei, Kalaoa, Kona Palisades, Keāhole, Palamanui, Kohanaiki, Kaloko, Kaloko Mauka and Hualālai.

 

Tom Hasslinger
Tom Hasslinger is a journalist who lives in Kailua-Kona. Prior to joining Big Island Now, he worked as the managing editor for West Hawaii Today and deputy editor for The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai. He's worked for over 15 years as a reporter for the Oahu-based Civil Beat news outlet, as well as in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and Douglas Wyoming.
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