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BWS scrambles to get wells online in hopes of avoiding mandatory restrictions

The Board of Water Supply has been busy replacing old pumps to bring wells in Kalihi and Aiea that were out of service back online.
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 4:11 PM HST|Updated: May. 12, 2022 at 6:26 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Board of Water Supply has been busy replacing old pumps to bring wells in Kalihi and Aiea that were out of service back online.

It’s part of an effort to try and prevent mandatory water restrictions from going into effect this summer as three wells near the fuel contamination at Red Hill remain closed.

The first pumps expected to be back up and running are located at the Kalihi Pumping Station.

Officials say they’ve got them working. They’re just waiting on results from water quality tests which they hope to have next month.

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“The project, it’s a complete renovation of the station,” said BWS Capital Projects Division administrator Jason Takaki.

Construction at the site started five years ago.

All the work on the century-old building isn’t expected to be finished until January. But officials say three of the five pumps have been installed and are ready to go.

BWS Chief Engineer Ernie Lau is pushing to get them back in service by June.

“We’re working really hard to try and get some of the pumping units at the Kalihi Pumping Station, while the project’s still underway, get those turned on,” Lau said.

“And pumping clean water into our drinking water system.”

Water from the Kalihi wells will help serve customers on the makai side of the H-1 Freeway from Kalihi to Hawaii Kai.

Officials hope to have the remaining two pumps that service customers in Honolulu on the mauka side of the freeway working by August.

“In addition to the major renovation of the Kalihi Pumping Station we’re also bringing the pumps back on at Kalauao,” said Takaki.

Lau added, “Three of the six wells that are there were under repair prior to the Red Hill situation. And we’re trying to get those back in service by at least the late summer.”

On top of that, the city has already begun diverting water from other communities ― as much as 2.5 million gallons a day.

“As far away as Waipahu, we’re now pumping water to make up the shortage in Honolulu,” Lau said.

Even with combined measures, officials say customers could still face mandatory water restrictions if users don’t cut their consumption by 10%.

It’s an ask the agency made more than a month ago and one that isn’t being met.

“We need to do better,” Lau said. “It’s going to help and hopefully keep us out of mandatory conservation restrictions through the summer. That’s our hope and we’re crossing our fingers.”

Lau says for every one minute you cut from your shower, you save two gallons of water.

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