HONOLULU (KHON2) — A request to conserve water continues on Oahu as dry conditions and a shutdown of the Halawa Water Shaft due to the Navy fuel spill remains in place. The Board of Water Supply is working with some of the biggest water users to cut back.
There are 40 golf courses scattered about Oahu, and all but three of them are either irrigating on recycled water, brackish water, or separate wells from the Board of Water Supply’s system. BWS says the three courses that are on its potable water system are Ala Wai, Hawaii Kai, and Mid-Pacific. Ala Wai is a city course, while the other two are privately owned. All three are being asked to cut back on their water use.
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“They understand the benefit of preserving the freshwater aquifer for higher and better uses and drinking for people,” BWS Water Resources Program Manager Barry Usagawa said.
Usagawa says these courses pay three times as much for water as those that use recycled water, and it’s not by choice. Plans to shift to recycled or well water haven’t panned out for these locations due to a number of reasons, including sea-level rise with climate change, and lack of available drilling sites.
“The cost incentive a big water bill they get is incentive enough for them to use less,” Usagawa added. “But maybe we need to work with them to see how we can actually reduce it more.”
It’s not just golf courses that are putting stress on the BWS system. Conservation efforts are aimed at avoiding summer shortages when daily use jumps from 130 million gallons per day to 150 million.
“That difference at 20 million gallons per day difference is primarily outdoor water use,” Usagawa said. “A big user of the big parks. Not talking about the neighborhood parks around the corner you know, this is like Kapiolani, Ala Moana, and Kakaako.”
BWS says it’s been working with the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation to find a solution.
“DPR is identifying park locations with high water consumption in the affected urban Honolulu corridor (and beyond) to determine where water-saving efforts can be maximized while minimizing impact to public recreation facilities. Also, DPR is currently finalizing the implementation of energy and water-saving measures as part of our Energy Saving Contract to improve dozens of park locations across O’ahu. Concerning reducing water usage, this includes installing smart irrigation controls and replacing plumbing fixtures.” DPR told KHON2 in a written statement.
On top of golf courses and parks, BWS says they are also asking visitor industries, restaurants, hospitals, and shopping centers to help conserve water.
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If the voluntary conservation doesn’t end up working, the Board of Water Supply says they would have to look at mandatory conservation measures. One example is only allowing customers to water lawns two days per week. There could be other measures, but those would have to be given board approval after internal discussions.