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Residents urged to boil water, schools closed after water tanks vandalized

  • COURTESY DHHL

    DHHL said it discovered the damage to both 3.5-million gallon tanks this afternoon.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is urging the public on Molokai to avoid using water from two storage tanks in Hoolehua after they were damaged by vandals.

The vandalism led to concerns about the water supply and prompted the closure of four public schools for Wednesday.

DHHL said it discovered the damage to both 3.5-million gallon tanks this afternoon, said DHHL spokeswoman Kuuwehi Hiraishi.

She said one tank’s lid was completely torn off while the lock on the second tank’s lid was broken. A picture of the tanks shows they are nearly three stories high and dozens of feet in diameter.

The state Department of Health has been notified and is expediting water quality analysis to identify potential contaminants, DHHL said.

Until the analysis is complete, residents should seek alternate water sources for drinking, brushing teeth, washing hands, cooking, dishwashing, and bathing, DHHL said.

DHHL is providing potable water from the fire hydrant next to the Kulana Oiwi conference room at 600 Maunaloa Highway for Hoolehua water system consumers.

The notice will remain in effect until DOH and DHHL receive water quality results. DHHL is notifying Hoolehua customers individually. Hiraishi said about 1,800 customers have been affected.

A Department of Education spokeswoman said Molokai High, Molokai Middle, Maunaloa Elementary, and Kaulapuu Public Conversion Charter schools will be closed on Wednesday because of the water issue. The private preschool Punana Leo o Molokai will remain open Wednesday, Hiraishi said.

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