HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu Board of Water Supply is in search of new water sources as it tries to offset the capacity lost from the Red Hill fuel contamination.
It’s a major undertaking that hasn’t been done in about 20 years and will cost several million dollars. Officials said the plan is to have the United States Navy pay for it.
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Shortly after fuel was detected in the water supply provided by the Navy’s Red Hill Shaft, the BWS shut down three of its wells, including the Halawa Shaft. It’s the largest provider which used to pump out 10 million gallons a day to the urban Honolulu area.
The total capacity lost from the shut down of the three wells is 14 million gallons a day, and officials said it’s not clear if they will ever use them again.
“It’s indefinite at this point when we might be able to turn those wells back on,” said BWS Water Quality Administrator Erwin Kawata. “We thought it was important to at least go out and start looking for new water supplies.”
The fear is that the aquifer that provides water to the three wells is also contaminated with fuel.
So BWS has identified five spots so far where they intend to drill down to build exploratory wells. While they are in the same aquifer, Kawata said they are far enough away and uphill from where the fuel spill occurred.
“So the purpose here is to drill the well and test it to see if it can produce the kinds of quantity and quality water that we would like,” Kawata explained. “And if it does, then we will move into the production phase.”
Kawata said each well would normally take up to seven years to build but the plan is to get each done in two years if all goes well. The cost is up to $6 million for each well.
“Our objective is to try to recover the cost from the Navy in the future to make us whole,” said Kawata.
BWS is asking Oahu residents to cut down on water use by 10% during the summer months. Kawata said that probably won’t be lifted any time soon.
“This summer will kind of tell us about what the future will hold in terms of the need for conservation but it is probably a new norm at least for the next two, three — maybe four years,” he said.
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KHON2 reached out to the Navy about paying for the cost of the wells, and there’s been no response.