Another South Kona well proposed

Councilwoman Brenda Ford says South Kona needs a new well — the sooner, the better.

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Councilwoman Brenda Ford says South Kona needs a new well — the sooner, the better.

Ford, who represents South Kona and Ka‘u on the Hawaii County Council, said an additional water source is needed for homes and fire trucks in a 23-mile stretch between Hookena and Ocean View which is presently devoid of county water.

“When we have a fire, the brush trucks don’t carry more than 300 gallons, and that’s no more than spit in a fire,” Ford said in an interview.

The Hawaii County Water Board on Tuesday mulled a resolution introduced by Ford and adopted by the County Council in July. The document calls on the Department of Water Supply to acquire land and develop a well, reservoir and transmission main in Captain Cook, saying that current wells can’t supply enough water for expansion of businesses or extension of water lines to unserved areas to the south.

Besides potable water and fire suppression for areas south of Hookena, the well is needed for backup in case of earthquakes or other natural disasters that could knock out existing sources, Ford said.

“We have excellent water in the Captain Cook area. The problem is that we don’t have a high elevation well. When the good well goes down, people start calling me because (the DWS) starts using the backup well and people can taste the difference,” Ford said.

South Kona will need the water to grow its businesses and medical services in the future, she said.

“I’m not advocating mass development, but we do need to have enough water for some commercial uses, and medical is what I am really thinking about,” said Ford, who was not at the DWS meeting but spoke to West Hawaii Today by phone.

Ford said she would prefer to extend county water from Hookena 13 miles south to Milolii, but that even putting in a spigot station on the dry stretch of coast would improve the current situation.

DWS Manager Quirino Antonio told Water Board members that the new well will go on a five-year list of improvement projects. Multiple county wells in the area sustain current users, Quirino said.

“But it is good to have this additional well in our back pocket,” he said.

The county has not settled on a well site, Quirino added.

Water Board member David Greenwell questioned whether a large number of users would try to hook up to the county water at reduced agricultural rates if an extension to Milolii is made.

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Ford said she understands the concern about supplying large amounts of water at reduced rates for agriculture, and said the issue for her is more about fire control and potable water for residents.

“If (a fire tanker) has to drive 15, even 10 miles to a spigot, the house is going to be gone,” she said.

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