Dry days on Westside

KAUMAKANI – Around 900 residents of Makaweli, Kaumakani and Pakala are still waiting for water.

A pump in the water system owned and managed by Gay & Robinson failed Saturday and it was hoped it would be repaired Monday. But by late afternoon, faucets were still dry. Some residents said it was a burden hauling their own water, while others said it just seemed like they were camping.

“Yes, of course, for cooking and showering,” Conchita Minia, manager of the Aloha Bakery in the Thrifty Mart, on whether residents were feeling put out by the problem. “It’s been about two days already.”

She said her store is on the main county line and was not affected. There hasn’t been much water traffic in the store from the Kaumakani neighborhood, which is mostly comprised of retired people. Most residents of the 200 or so houses utilized the free bottled water and non-potable water from the pump’s owner, Gay & Robinson, and the county water buffalo in the parking lot.

Then again, some residents were inconvenienced and some were upset, she pointed out.

Billy Caberto of Koloa and Anson Fujimoto of Eleele stopped by the store after checking on relatives of Kaumakani. The two were born and raised in Kaumakani and hauled in water for their families.

“They got ways to get by,” Caberto said. “My family goes to Hanapepe or to Kekaha to take a shower. They are always ready for the worst.”

Fujimoto said his family took it in stride.

“It’s just like they were camping,” he said. “We’re going to fill up for them right now.”

Keith Yap, director of administration for Gay & Robinson, said the water system was built by the company years ago and breaks down occasionally. The difference this time was that the company didn’t have the part to fix it in stock and is having it shipped to the island.

With two teams working on two different scenarios Monday, Yap said they expected to have the water running again soon.

“Of course, we don’t know yet if we will experience any other problems,” Yap said. “When you recharge the system, you run the risk of a broken pipe with the water pressure being built back up again.”

Over the weekend, the company brought bottled water to the residents and the county provided water buffaloes with clear water for people to fill buckets at the Pakala Post Office and the Kaumakani Thrifty Mart.

Ray Agulay of Kaumakani took advantage of the water being handed out and filled a jug for washing. He had enough bottled water to get by until the main line was back.

“I heard it was coming back on today, hopefully,” Agulay said.

Benita Ranada and her sister Nemesia Bala came by to fill up two large water cooler jugs. They had to make one trip to the water buffalo, they said, and go to Salt Pond to shower, which is close to Kaumakani camp. They had to work most of the weekend and so it wasn’t that big a deal. They went to the laundry mat and just grabbed some fast-food on the way home instead of cooking.

“I think we’re OK. It’s only two to three days,” Bala said.

Nolie Coma of Kaumakani had a similar story. He didn’t have to fill up on drinking water until Monday.

“I went to Salt Pond over the weekend,” he said.

Jack Mentz of Kaumakani said his hurricane prepping came in handy for this mini-disaster.

“We already had some really good artesian water for drinking, and we use this (water buffalo) for everything else,” Mentz said. “We are just right over here so it’s not too bad and they set this water point up right away. We have plenty of water for personal use and this is for showers and everything else.

The county and the Department of Water reported they were not aware of any reported health incidents related to the water outage.

Mentz said he is confident Gay & Robinson is doing everything it can to get things working again.

“I am sure they are doing their best,” he said.

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