Board of Water Supply takes extra precautions against fuel contamination

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — In light of the latest water test results showing petroleum in tap water at military housing at Pearl Harbor, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply (BWS) said it is taking extra precautionary measures by reducing the amount of water being pumped from the Halawa shaft — which is near the Red Hill facility.

The Red Hill Shaft, which supplies water to military housing in the Pearl Harbor area, is less than a mile from the Halawa Shaft — which is owned by the BWS. The Halawa shaft supplies water to about 450,000 urban Honolulu residents.

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With petroleum detected in the water from the Red Hill shaft, there is growing concern that fuel could reach the Halawa Shaft.

“Is that fuel now migrating toward us across the valley? That is the million-dollar question that we need answered,” said Ernie Lau, BWS manager.

The Navy stopped pumping water from Red Hill after it detected a fuel tank leak, which Lau said increases the risk of the Halawa facility getting contaminated.

“Because we’re pumping from the same aquifer and just picture that you have two straws taking water from the same cup. If that water contains fuel in it and it’s carrying fuel, then will it get across the valley and then start to show up in our wells? That is our concern,” explained Lau.

Lau says testing kits will arrive within the week and results from the Halawa Shaft will be available during the week of Dec. 6. Other wells in the area will increase their water output to provide enough water for urban Honolulu residents.

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Doctors said petroleum in the water raises serious health concerns because ingesting it can lead to all kinds of illnesses, even in small amounts.

“Drinking it for days would be acute ingestion, which can affect memory, cause headaches, other problems related to your brain — things that are important for cognition,” said Dr. Tony Trpkovski of NIU Health.

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