LIHUE — Kauai residents have taken more of an interest in fixing water leaks in their home, which is a way to curb the loss of natural resources and money.
During the week of March 20, the Department of Water gave away 160 leak detection kits in a targeted campaign. That brings the total leak detection kits given out by the Kauai DOW to 164 since January.
That means in the past four months, Kauai DOW has surpassed last year’s total of 116 leak detection kits distributed.
“Our promotion this year was definitely a lot better than last year,” said Kimberly Tamaoka, of Kauai DOW.
Focusing on leak prevention has decreased overall water usage on the island, Tamaoka said, and that can be seen in the number of gallons annually used by DOW customers.
In 2012, DOW water usage for the entire year was 4.08 billion gallons. The usage increased to 4.5 billion gallons in 2013 and that’s when Kauai DOW really started focusing on leak prevention.
“After that year we started doing Fix a Leak Week and started doing water conservation outreach,” Tamaoka said.
Kauai DOW joined in with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s annual Fix a Leak Week to promote leak detection on the island in March.
Water usage dipped to 4.07 billion gallons in the time period of April 2015 to March 31, 2016, and for the most recent time period — from April 2016 to March 31, 2017, water usage was 4.02 billion gallons.
That averages out to a current usage rate of about 11 million gallons of water per day by Kauai DOW customers on the island.
“We don’t have a water supply shortage, but we do like to make sure that our customers aren’t wasting water,” Tamaoka said.
Often leaks can add to the monthly total as well, and keeping water bills low is also a priority for the water department.
“You can be losing money and not know it, so if there’s a big spike in water usage, we’ll usually reach out and contact the customers so we can figure out what’s going on,” said Jonell Kaohelaulii, of Kauai DOW.
The detection kits are available at the Kauai DOW office year round for free. The March event was geared toward raising awareness and education for leak detection.
About 10 percent of homes in the United States have some sort of leak within their plumbing, according to the EPA.
One leaky faucet dripping at the rate of one drop per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, and annually the nation wastes about 1 trillion gallons of water because of household leaks, according to the EPA.
That’s enough water to keep up with average demand in 11 million homes.
Leak detection can take as little as half an hour, if done right, and can be done by any homeowner by checking the water meter on the property.
“Many times it’s a worn-out flapper, and that’s an easy fix,” Kaohelauliii said. “Those flappers are maybe $2 or even less at The Home Depot. It’s an easy replacement part.”
The leak detection kits at the DOW have a kit to test for toilet leaks, a low-flow showerhead, and aerators for faucets.
Contact the Department of Water at 245-5442 or drop by 4398 Pua Loke St. in Lihue to get a detection kit.