The County Department of Water issued a boil-water notice yesterday for businesses and residents in Kapaa and the Waipouli area due to silt contamination in the drinking water caused by mechanical failure of a valve at the Ornellas tank.
The affected area is from the vicinity of the intersection of Laipo Road and Kawaihau Road, through the downtown Kapa‘a area, extending toward the Waipouli area and as far as the northern intersection of Papaloa Road and Kuhio Highway. The affected area includes the Coconut Marketplace, the adjacent hotels, downtown Kapa‘a, Vivian Heights, Mahelona Hospital, Kapa‘a High School, and along Hauaala Road, said a DOW spokeswoman.
The boil-water notice was issued yesterday morning, and is effective until noon today, said Edward Tschupp, DOW manager and civil engineer, as the DOW continues to flush out the water mains in the area to get out the silt.
DOW officials are conducting tests for microbial contamination, but results of those tests won’t be available until around noon today, said Tschupp.
As of Tuesday night, most of the silt had been flushed from the mains, DOW officials said, but the boil-water notice will remain in effect until the microbial testing has been completed.
“Our apologies to our customers for this inconvenience,” said Tschupp, but “It’s best to be cautious.”
“If [customers] do see silty water, they should flush it out. They should open their taps to flush the silt out of their house plumbing as we are doing to the system,” said Tschupp.
All water that can be ingested, such as water for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, and cooking should be boiled, but it is not necessary to boil water used for bathing, irrigation, or sanitation. Water should be boiled for at least a minute, said Tschupp, and then cooled.
Ice makers and water purifiers (to avoid clogging the system) should be turned off as well, Tschupp said.
Water tankers will be placed in strategic spots, such as at Mahelona Hospital and in Kapa‘a town, in places areas where there are no facilities to boil water.
The problem started on Sunday, when a valve on the Ornella water tank failed in the open position, said Tschupp. When the tank overflowed, DOW workers shut the valve off. A secondary valve, used to refill the tank on Monday, sent water from a different direction into the pipe, causing the natural accumulation of silt at the bottom of the tank to be disturbed and flow into the water system.
DOW workers thought the silt was contained in a small area on Kawaihau Road Monday night, said Tschupp.
But complaints rolled in from other areas of Kapa‘a, starting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, and DOW workers began flushing out the water mains, he said. Tschupp could not say how many calls D0W received, but said that the flow of calls had slowed to a trickle by Tuesday night.
Kapa‘a areas not affected include: Upper Kapa‘a Homesteads above the Kahala Road and Kawaihau Road intersections; Wailua Homesteads; Wailua Houselots; and the Kinipopo Shopping Center area south of Papaloa Road.