HONOLULU (KHON2) — Protecting Hawaii’s environment has a lot to do with water.
Sustainability became top-of-mind for residents after the Red Hill fuel spill in 2021 and some are still dealing with ill effects, but lawsuits are ongoing for those affected by the Navy’s water system.
The Honolulu Board of Water Supply said there are still 104 million gallons of fuel inside Red Hill, right above Oahu’s aquifer. Their chief engineer said the military has to make 253 repairs before they can safely defuel.
“And they’re about a little over halfway through that list,” said Honolulu BWS Chief Engineer Ernie Lau. “Yeah, it’s a little disappointing, I do want them to defuel safely, but I’d like it to be on our accelerated timeline.”
Davie-Ann has lived on the Navy’s water system for eight years. She and her family stopped using tap water 14 months ago after dealing with hives, breathing issues and bouts of vertigo — they have used bottled water ever since.
“We are so overwhelmed with us going ahead and controlling our output for our recycles, we need the money though, because that helps us towards our groceries, towards getting more water bottle cases,” Davie-Ann said.
Hand washing, showering and washing dishes have all become cold tasks for Davie-Ann’s household, but attorneys said help is on the horizon.
Kristina Baehr of Just Well Law represents 2,200 Red Hill claimants and said that number is growing every day.
A Joint Task Force Red Hill spokesperson said in they do not comment on ongoing litigation. Baehr said the deadline to file a claim is November 2023.
In the meantime, a second Walk for Water is being held on Sunday, April 23 at Ala Moana Regional Park and Magic Island. Hundreds of people came out to the first walk in December, 2022.
“I’ll be there tomorrow to walk alongside with the rest of the folks in the community,” Lau said. “But really, I think it’s a physical demonstration of our commitment to protect our precious wai, our precious water resources.”
United States Navy Vice Admiral John Wade recently said:
“All others from Hawaii, both military and civilian, helped the rest of our team better understand the connection between the land, water, and people. This appreciation has given us greater clarity and purpose as we execute this incredibly important mission.”