HONOLULU (KHON2) — Beginning Friday, July 2, Upcountry Maui residents in Lower and Upper Kula, Makawao, Haiku, Pukalani, Kokomo, Ulumalu, Kaupakalua, Kanaio and Ulupalakua will be prohibited from using water for non-essential activities like watering the lawn and washing a car in the driveway.
It’s the second time within a year the area is being impacted by a water shortage, and officials said it’s due to an increase in water usage with no rain in sight.
“The irony is when it’s dry [residents] use more water, and when they use more water because it’s dry, we don’t have water,” said Jeffrey Pearson, Maui County Department of Water Supply director. “So, in the wetter months and the wetter periods it is as low as five million gallons a day Upcountry, but right now, yesterday it was eight million gallons a day that was used Upcountry.”
The county said two main wells Upcountry hold 50 million gallons each and are at or below 50% capacity.
Pearson said some rain last week helped push one reservoir from 45- to 60% capacity, but it still isn’t enough.
“We don’t see any rain in the near future, and I’m not gonna call it off, call it on, call it off, and call it on again, so we’re going to keep a close eye on that,” Pearson explained about putting restrictions in place.
He said he can’t tell businesses to stop using water, but residents or people who do not comply can face a $500 fine or have their water meter taken away.
“The directive says they’re supposed to use it only for normal uses,” he said of businesses. “There is an ordinance in Maui that says that no golf courses can use portable water for irrigation.”
The National Weather Service said drought conditions could get worse over the next few months.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if by the September timeframe that we’re going to be in D3 or extreme drought in West Molokai, and the island of Maui will be in some level of extreme drought,” said Kevin Kodama, NWS Hydrologist.
He said rain is likely to return to the area in November 2021.