Well repairs expected Sunday

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KAILUA-KONA — Repairs to the Keahuolu Deepwell are expected to be completed Sunday, the County Department of Water Supply said.

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KAILUA-KONA — Repairs to the Keahuolu Deepwell are expected to be completed Sunday, the County Department of Water Supply said.

In the meantime, all residents and customers in North Kona are asked to continue to restrict water use to health and safety needs (drinking, cooking, and hygiene purposes) only. All irrigation activities should be stopped, the department said in a press release. Crews are working double shifts through the holiday weekend to install the replacement pump.

Keith Okamoto, chief engineer with DWS on Hawaii Island, said the problem stems from a thrust bearing failure in the motor. The reason the repair timeline is quicker than the ones involving four other downed wells waiting for repairs is because the county had the parts on island already.

“We had a spare pump and motor in inventory,” he wrote in an email to West Hawaii Today on Monday.

Should the part not work, the repair could be four to six months out, which is a similar time frame for repairs for the other wells as motors and pumps are custom made and built to order, meaning manufacturers don’t stock them.

The department has said that motor and pump replacement repairs can range between $300,000-$800,000. The repairs for the 2-million-gallon deepwell at Waiaha — the next inoperable well expected to return to functional status — will be completed after the Keahuolu Deepwell. That well is on track to be back up at the end of July.

Before then, should the county meet the Sunday date for the Keahuolu Deepwell, the water restriction will be eased back to the normal restriction that was most recently posted June 9. That restriction does not limit water use to mandatory-only levels but asks for a 25 percent reduction.

“Although it lists, ‘Stop lawn sprinkling’ on the normal restriction notice, that is just one of the suggestions to reduce water use,” Okamoto wrote of the reduced restrictions, should the county return to them after the weekend.

DWS said it appreciated everyone’s assistance and cooperation with the request, adding that because of the public’s help, water service has been maintained to all users.

“The fact that we have no reports of people without water and we have water in our tanks, even with the latest well going down, indicates compliance,” Okamoto wrote.

An update from the department is expected at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The private nonprofit, Community Forums, will host a meeting on the water restriction from 6 to 8 p.m. July 20 at the West Hawaii Civic Center.

During the forum, officials from DWS will explain the how and why of the current water emergency, a notice on the forum stated.

The forum will explore why the agency was not better prepared for critical equipment failures and service disruptions, and why it will take nearly an entire year to fully restore water service to the Kona area, among other topics.

“We have got to be better prepared and have the appropriate spare pumps and motors on hand,” Okamoto told West Hawaii shortly before the Keahuolu Deepwell went down.

DWS serves more than 11,000 accounts in Kona.

DWS will continue to monitor for unnecessary water use. It also recommends that residents store a sufficient amount of water for basic household needs, such as drinking, cooking, and hygiene purposes, in the event of service disruptions.

A water tanker is located on Hina Lani Street between Anini Street and Manu Mele Street and there is a water spigot on a fire hydrant along Ane Keohokalole Highway, between Kealakehe Parkway and Kealakehe High School.

Info: www.hawaiidws.org

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To report wasteful water use, call the Department of Water Supply during normal business hours at 961-8060. After-hours and emergencies, 961-8790.

Info: http://hawaiidws.org/

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