Water Service Resumes
Community rallies to conserve water as county pump is repaired.
By Melissa Kelsey
Contractors from Beylik Drilling and Pump flew in an extra crew to allow for both day and night work shifts to replace the pump at Kualapu`u Well.
After more than a week of uncertainty, repairs to the pump at the county well in Kualapu`u were completed last Saturday. The county well began pumping water into the one million gallon Kaunakakai water tank at a rate of 800 gallons per minute after the fix, according to county spokesperson Mahina Martin.
“It is so amazing to me how this community pulled together and handled the situation,” said Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares.
Tavares explained that a Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) well had been temporarily supplying the Kaunakakai tank with water, ever since repair work to Kualapu`u Well began last month. The real problem occurred when the DHHL pump broke, leaving Kaunakakai and Kalae without a stable source of water.
If residents of Kaunakakai and Kalae had not been able to conserve water, their taps would have run dry within 24 to 36 hours, according to Tavares.
Molokai General Hospital and its 28 dialysis center patients would have been most severely affected if the Kaunakakai central water tank had gone dry, Martin said. During the water shortage, most of the dialysis patients were relocated off-island to minimize risk.
“The correct decision given the information at hand was to move the patients out,” said Tavares.
Last weekend, county officials praised the Molokai community for their water conservation efforts. Work crews from the Department of Water Supply, the Department of Public Works and Beylik Drilling and Pump who worked for nine days straight to avert a potential crisis were also lauded. Officials said Fire Captain Travis Tancayo led disaster prevention efforts. The Department of Hawaiian Homelands generously allowed the county to make use of a second well. Liberty Dialysis worked with the county to care for Molokai dialysis patients. Firefighters, hospital and community volunteers went door-to-door to inform the Molokai community about the situation. Queens Hospital and Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA) donated $2500 each to help dialysis patients with travel costs.
Molokai Pizza Café stopped using their ice cream machine because it requires water to operate, and began using paper dishes to avoid dish washing, according to Martin. Monsanto voluntarily turned off water sprinklers even though their water comes from a different source than Kualapu`u Well. Although their water supply was not at risk, Martin said they wanted to avoid misdirecting others.