Water warning: Usage restriction likely to return to North Kona absent better conservation

  • Keith Okamoto, DWS manager-chief engineer

KAILUA-KONA — Hawaii County Department of Water Supply on Wednesday issued a reminder to customers in the North Kona region that a 10 percent voluntary water conservation effort is still in effect.

The department made its announcement on the heels of a disconcerting discovery.


“Daily monitoring over the past week indicates a downward trend in a couple of key water tank levels,” Nyssa Kushi, DWS spokesperson, wrote in an email to West Hawaii Today.

The department stated in its release that if customers in North Kona don’t exert a stronger conservation effort, DWS will reinstate the mandatory 25 percent water use restriction it effected and maintained for nearly all of last year.

“Please kokua and do your part to conserve water, our most precious resource,” the release read.

Four deep wells in the North Kona system are currently inoperable — Palani, Honokohau, Hualalai and Waiaha. In the past, three downed wells have proven enough to spur a 25 percent mandatory usage restriction.

Keith Okamoto, DWS manager-chief engineer, told West Hawaii Today in May that better departmental understanding of available resources and the addition of a 14th water source to the North Kona system, Makalei Estates Deep Well, allowed DWS to avoid a restriction despite Palani’s failure on May 9, which brought the total number of offline wells back up to four.

That flexibility, however, appears now to have nearly evaporated along with water stores throughout the region.

DWS has awarded contracts for the repair of both Honokohau and Hualalai but has not yet established a timeline for either source’s return to functional status.


Deep well equipment from Palani, the most recent source to fail, is scheduled to be inspected this month, with the department to establish a course of action after diagnosing the issue.

DWS plans to dig a new well at Waiaha, where a contractor lost equipment during a botched excavation last summer. The department has not established a timeline for when the new well will be up and running.