North Kona approaches full year under mandatory water usage reduction

KAILUA-KONA — In one week, it’ll be a year.

Hawaii County Department of Water Supply enacted a 25 percent mandatory water reduction in North Kona on Jan. 12, 2017, citing multiple deep well malfunctions limiting the region’s water supply as the reason. Since that time, the restriction has been periodically upped as more wells fell out of service, but the original restriction has yet to be reduced or lifted.

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The department announced on Dec. 20 that repairs to the Keopu Deep Well had been completed and that disinfection and water quality testing were commencing to ready the well for service.

DWS added that as soon as Keopu proved to operate reliably, the restriction would be downgraded to a 10 percent voluntary conservation. As of Thursday, 15 days had passed since repairs were completed.

“The 25 (percent) water restriction is still in effect until further notice,” Kaiulani Matsumoto, spokesperson for DWS, wrote in an email to West Hawaii Today on Thursday. “DWS is using and evaluating (the) Keopu well as of today. DWS will notify the public on updates to the water restriction as appropriate.”

She added the department will update repair information sheets on its website by the end of the week for all offline wells. Matsumoto also said of the three deep wells that remain inoperative, the well at Keahuolu is the department’s top priority.

Keahuolu — like the Hualalai Deep Well, which is second on the department’s to-do list — was repaired in 2017 only to fail again shortly after due to premature submersible equipment failure.

The Waiaha Deep Well is the last currently inoperative well the department plans to address. Repairs were ongoing at the site this summer when a cable snapped during an extraction and sent deep well equipment plummeting to the bottom of the well, where it yet remains.

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Matsumoto said DWS is working with contractors to develop firm timelines for a return to service for each of the three inoperative North Kona water sources.

The HOVE Deep Well, the only public water source serving Hawaiian Ocean View Estates and the Ranchos area in Ka‘u, also remains offline. That well failed in mid-November, but DWS expects repairs will be completed sometime between the middle and end of January, Matsumoto said.

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