Water service short for some areas

LIHU’E – Kaua’i County’s water system can meet the demands of the island, but some areas will not receive full service due to lack of water sources, storage and transmission facilities, said deputy water manager Ed Tschupp.

But the water department will check into all options that can strengthen the system and provide full service to as many communities as possible, Tschupp said.

Tschupp spoke about the condition of the water system in relationship to meetings the water department plans to hold in October or November to discuss Water Plan 2020.

The plan is the department’s long-range strategy to deliver safe, sufficient and affordable drinking water to more than 18,000 customers islandwide.

The infrastructure, water sources and funding issues related to the island’s drinking water system for the next 20 years are subjects of the plan.

In response to the need to strengthen the system, Tschupp said the water department has $14.1 million for new water projects and major rehabilitation work.

Of that amount, $7.4 million is for new projects, and $6.7 million is allotted for large-scale maintenance and capital rehabilitation program, Tschupp said.

Some of the $6. 7 million will be used in populated areas: ?

Replacement of a major waterline that runs in front of the Coco Palms in Wailua at a cost of $1.2 million. The design work for the project is near completion.

• Construction and rehabilitation of a major water system toward Halfway Bridge outside of Lihu’e at a cost of $1.6 million.

• Replacement of a pipeline along the Lawa’i Beach Road in Po’ipu, a popular visitor destination, at a cost of $500,000.

These projects and others mark the first attempt by the water department to implement a major maintenance program in nearly 20 years, county water officials have said.

The water system – parts of which date back to the 1930s – hasn’t had a major overhaul since the 1980s after a large-scale maintenance program was dropped by the water department in favor of drilling more water wells and installating water pipes, officials said.

At the time, the department’s priority was to develop more water sources to accommodate fast-spreadng development, officials said.

Tschupp said that while it would be ideal to connect 13 separate water systems on the island, it isn’t being considered now due to the cost.

The water plan will address other issues as well, including: ?

Assessing facility improvement and replacement needs for the water systems.

• Determining the priorities of projects.

• Creating a list of both capital improvement and capital rehabilitation projects and cost.

• Preparing a financial plan.

• Determining whether fees need to be increased.

• Addressing a way to balance urban and rural water needs and rates. “We are seeking to balance off funding for the capital needs to maintain affordable and predictable rates,” Tschupp said.

• Determining how and when to expand services.

• Exploring new water sources.

A draft plan will be completed and circulated for public review at the end of this year. After revisions are made, the board of water supply will adopt the plan.

The first set of public meetings on the plan were held in June. The third round of meetings has not been scheduled, Tschupp said.

The water system consists of 48 underground wells, 43 storage tanks and nearly 400 miles of pipes, and serves more than 17,000 customers from Ha’ena to Kekaha.

The water department receives no funding from the county and operates on a projected budget this fiscal year of $10.4 million, Tschupp said.

A portion of the operating funds are used for emergencies, including the recent shutdown of water in Kalaheo after two electric water pumps for a well malfunctioned. Water service was fully restored to the community after the water department received an electric pump loaned by the Maui Water Department.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext.225) and lchang@pulitzer.net


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.