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Hawaii News

North Kona water users ignoring dire situation, officials say

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    North Kona consumers are largely ignoring the notice for mandatory 25 percent reduction in water use issued in January, according to officials with Hawaii island’s Department of Water Supply.

KAILUA-KONA >> Officials with Hawaii island’s Department of Water Supply said this week that North Kona consumers are largely ignoring the notice for mandatory 25 percent reduction in water use issued in January.

The department’s tracking of pumping and consumption rates show some compliance was observed early on but has dropped off in recent months, West Hawaii Today reported Tuesday.

“People need to know the extreme seriousness of the situation,” Mayor Harry Kim said.

Keith Okamoto, manager and chief engineer with the department, said 13 wells service the area. He said four of them have been out of service since January.

If one more well were to fall out of commission at this point, the result would be “catastrophic,” he said.

“Any future failures of additional pumps will cause us to go to another level, meaning for some people, water will have to be rotated,” Kim said.

Okamoto said it appears irrigation is the largest contributor to the problem, although residents should still be limiting water use.

“All it takes is a glitch in power or some other short-term effect that might discontinue the ability of our existing wells to continue pumping,” Okamoto said. “If people don’t start complying, the available water in our storage tanks is going to deplete pretty rapidly. Ultimately, that could result in a disruption in water service.”

Robert Ravenscraft, water district supervisor in Kona, said the department’s booster system is bearing the brunt of extra work as it pumps more than half a million gallons per day from lower-elevation wells north to the more heavily affected areas. But those boosters predate the construction of higher-elevation wells and weren’t built to handle the water consumption of North Kona’s current population.

Okamoto said roughly 12 million gallons are pumped in Kona daily, rendering the booster system nothing more than a stopgap solution.

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