Keahuolu deep well back online

KAILUA-KONA — North Kona is now only short two water sources after the Hawaii County Department of Water Supply completed “top-side” repairs on the Keahuolu deep well.

Keahuolu most recently fell out of commission in the second week of October after being repaired in late January.

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DWS brought Keahuolu back online Friday, spokesperson Kaiulani Matsumoto said in an email Monday, but the 10 percent voluntary water conservation in North Kona remains in effect until further notice.

The success at Keahuolu leaves deep wells at Hualalai and Waiaha as the only remaining downed wells. During the department’s difficult year in 2017, as many as five of its 13 water sources were simultaneously inoperative.

There is movement at both remaining offline wells, starting with Hualalai, where Matsumoto said DWS is planning to implement a change of design. Hualalai was brought back online in early October, failing only a few days later and prompting DWS officials to consider the likelihood of problems beyond premature failure of the deep well’s pump and/or motor.

On an informational sheet available on its website, DWS noted that a repair bid is underway and that it has set a scheduled bid opening date of Feb. 15 for the rights to “install a slim-line pump and motor assembly with a shroud” at Hualalai.

According to espctllc.com, motor shroud systems employ a shroud that creates a seal from above the pump intake to the motor’s base, which only allows for fluid to enter from the bottom of the shroud. The website says it can reduce failures brought about by overheating.

There is no concrete timeline for Hualalai’s return to service beyond the bid opening date.

The problem at Waiaha is not as clear because DWS can’t evaluate until the pump and motor dropped in the well during a botched extraction are fished out by Derrick’s Well Drilling and Pump Services LLC. According to the DWS website, the contractor will begin work to pull the equipment up in early February.

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“If removal is successful, the well will need to be inspected for any damages,” the information sheet reads. “The pump, motor, column pipe, and power cable will need to be replaced to prevent an unknown weakened component causing a failure in the future.”

Because of the unknowns, there remains no timeline for Waiaha’s return to service.