The state will “lead by example” in response to calls from the Honolulu Water Supply Board for residents to conserve water, Gov. David Ige said Monday, amid well closures and drought conditions during what is usually Hawaii’s rainy season.
Last week, BWS asked customers on Oahu to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 10% after the agency detected “signs of strain” at its Beretania drinking water wells. The wells suffered additional loads because the BWS shut down one of its main sources, the Halawa well, and two other wells as a precaution after the Navy suffered a fuel contamination crisis in its fuel system. water, which uses the same aquifer.
“We will view the state as a major user of water and take steps to reduce our water usage,” Ige said in an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight” program. “Certainly by reducing watering, looking at conservation.”
Ige cited “scalping” efforts at Hawaii airports to collect and reuse rainwater for landscaping and other activities that don’t require potable water. “We’re looking at how we can accelerate some of these plans,” Ige said.
The BWS has detected rising chloride levels in wells in Beretania, a key indicator of aquifer stress as it operates to pump water for more than 400,000 Honolulu residents once supplied by the Halawa well. , the largest source of fresh water on Oahu, according to a BWS press release on Thursday.
Well closures have been exacerbated by low levels of rainfall, further hampering aquifer recharge, according to the State Water Resources Management Commission report statewide “historic” drought conditions.
“A significant lack of rainfall on the island has resulted in a lack of groundwater recharge and surface runoff,” CWRM Deputy Director Kaleo Manuel said in a press release last week. “Normal rainy season rainfall has not materialized and streams that normally gush with water are barely flowing.”
Maui, historically parched, is the hardest hit by reduced rainfall. However, federal data shows that 74% of the stateincluding all of Oahu, experiences moderate drought conditions in late winter when rainfall is “normally heavy and regular,” the CWRM said.
Even though Oahu sees increased rainfall later in the year, the island’s aquifers need time to replenish, BWS director and chief engineer Ernest Lau said in Thursday’s news release.
“We need to reduce overall island demand to protect our groundwater resources from depletion,” Lau said. “This is necessary to ensure that Oahu’s drinking water supply remains healthy and sustainable over the long term.”
The average Hawaiian uses 144 gallons of water every day for drinking, bathing and other purposes. according to the National Foundation for Environmental Education. The BWS offered tips for keeping usage down to less than 130 gallons, like taking shorter showers and watering the lawn in the morning or evening.
“If everyone reduces their usage by 10% now, we may not have to resort to progressively restrictive mandatory retention later in the year,” Lau said.
The state isn’t alone in policing faucets — much of the American West is decades in a mega-drought endless in sight, drying up lakes and fueling raging forest fires.
Hawaii’s own water crisis makes protecting the environment more important than ever, Ige said.
“Sometimes he gets lost in what’s really going on…but climate change is real,” Ige said. “The weather is changing.”