HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu Board of Water Supply says test results confirm that water from its Halawa Shaft has not been contaminated. But questions remain as to whether one of Oahu’s largest water sources will remain that way, and if it will ever be put back in service.
The Board of Water Supply says it all comes down to getting more information from the Navy’s test well results. Otherwise, the BWS may never reopen it’s Halawa Shaft.
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BWS says test results from Halawa Shaft show no contamination of any chemicals related to jet fuel. Additional testing was done for metals such as mercury and lead and none was detected. While that is good news, concerns continue over the contamination at the Navy’s Red Hill Shaft which is less than a mile away.
“The question now is where is the contamination from that leak or leaks headed to in the ground water as it moves across the valley or further down the hill toward the ocean?” said Ernie Lau, BWS manager and chief engineer.
Lau says the only way to be sure is to get more detailed results from the Navy’s test wells in the area, which have not been made available. So BWS decided to stop pumping from Halawa Shaft.
“Because we felt that if we kept on pumping, we would only tend to draw faster especially with the Red Hill Shaft no longer pumping and also the Navy’s not pumping in their Aiea Halawa Shaft,” said Lau.
BWS says it’s been trying to get the information from the Navy for years. The Halawa Shaft was pumping 10 million gallons of water a day to residents from Halawa to Hawaii Kai. BWS also shut down two smaller wells in the area as an added precaution. The agency says it should still be able to provide enough water for now. But in the summer when demand is greater, there is the possibility that water conservation measures will have to be put in place.
In the meantime, BWS says it will keep testing the water weekly, not just from from Halawa Shaft but four other wells nearby.
The Board of Water Supply (BWS) held a press conference on Monday, Dec. 13, at 12:30 p.m., on the recently released test results confirming the safety of their drinking water at Halawa Shaft.
“Our standard practice is always do an independent analysis, and have someone else do it as well,” said BWS Program Administrator Erwin Kawata.
Kawata was asked if BWS knew how the Navy’s Red Hill wells were contaminated in the first place. He said BWS will wait until the Navy and the Department of Health do their final analysis before making a comment.
Over a week ago, as a precaution, BWS shut down its Halawa shaft — located 1.5 miles northeast of the Navy’s Aiea Halawa shaft — after the Department of Health (DOH) was notified that petroleum was detected in water samples collected in the Navy’s Aiea Halawa Shaft.
On Dec. 9, in a press conference, BWS Manager and Chief Engineer Ernest Lau confirmed water samples that were collected from its Halawa well were reported negative of petroleum contamination.
The Department of the Army sent out a memorandum on Friday, authorizing evacuation for all personnel, dependents and employees impacted by water contamination in military communities which include Camp Smith, Ford Island, Halawa, Hale Alii, Hale Moku, Hokulani, Hospital Point, Maloelap, Manana, McGrew Point, Pearl City Pennisula, Makalapa and Onizuka
The Army sent another memorandum on Saturday, Dec. 11, adding Iroquois Point to its evacuation list.
On Sunday, the Navy invited the media to observe its fuel recovery operations at Red Hill, which was led by Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One divers and by the Navy’s contractors.
“The Navy is trying to see what they can remove on the walls of the well,” said Lau. “The question now is where is the leak heading to now? It really is what is dissolving in the water that we don’t want to have pump into our wells at Halawa Shaft.”
Lau said BWS has not received any calls of contamination complaints from residents living in Pearl City. However, he said BWS will be collecting samples of their two wells that serve Pearl City sometime this week.
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“If we do find something, we will be sure to contact you first,” said Lau.