Residents urged to conserve water

With current weather conditions suggesting the onset of a drought, the county Water Department asked all Kaua’i residents, especially those in the East Kilauea area, to reduce their water usage.

“East Kilauea is experiencing an unusually high demand, where there are periods that although our pumps are pumping at capacity, the tanks remain low,” said Faith Shiramizu, the department’s public relations specialist. “We are currently investigating the situation so we can find a solution to this problem.”

Much can be attributed to dry weather conditions over recent weeks.

Hawai‘i experienced another dry week across most of the islands, according to a U.S. Drought Monitor report on Tuesday.

Streamflow levels remain low and impacts are becoming notable in the agricultural sector, the report states.

The weather forecast, which calls for no significant rainfall this week, suggests this trend will likely continue.

Kilauea farmer David Whatmore is starting to feel the pinch.

“We barely have enough water,” he said. “We are out of water as of today or tomorrow.”

Whatmore, along with 20 other farmers in the Kilauea area, depend on irrigation water from the Ka Loko Reservoir.

The water level in Ka Loko Reservoir has dropped nearly a foot in the past week, according to a United States Geological Survey water data report.

“Since we don’t have enough water stored in Ka Loko Reservoir, we don’t have the drought protection we used to,” Whatmore said. “For some reason, Ka Loko is running out of water.”

On 10 acres of land, Whatmore has about 800 fruit trees, some of which were planted more than 20 years ago.

“My trees are dying. If there was rain, they would be fine,” he said. “They’re dying partly because of drought and because my own personal irrigation system is broken.”

Farmers across the state are also dealing with drought conditions due to below normal rainfall.

“Most of the rain gauges on Kaua‘i along with the rest of the state recorded below normal rain totals for the past couple of years,” Shiramizu said.

On the Big Island and Moloka‘i, farmers using state agricultural water have been asked to voluntarily cut their water usage by 10 percent.

Farmers anticipating a dry summer in Waimanalo on O‘ahu received an order to cut water use by 20 percent.

Though the county Water Department is asking residents to conserve water this summer, Shiramizu said water conservation should be a way of life.

“Our hope is that everyone will choose to be good stewards of water, which is a very precious resource,” she said. “Water is a resource that none of us can survive without. Although we hope that consumers use water wisely on a daily basis, the dry conditions that we’ve experienced over the last couple of years makes water conservation even more important.”

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