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For Immediate Release
April 5, 2022

Board of Water Supply Steps Up Efforts to Urge Oahu Residents to Reduce Water Usage

HONOLULU – The Board of Water Supply is launching a series of TV and radio public service announcements to urge O‘ahu residents, businesses and government agencies to reduce their water use by 10% as a result of the Red Hill water contamination crisis.

The announcements feature Ernie Lau, BWS’s Manager and Chief Engineer, requesting all of us to do our part to save water.

“Ernie’s concern is real,” said Kathleen Pahinui, BWS’s Public Information Officer. “With a decrease in average rainfall on O‘ahu and the current strain on our water system to meet demand, we hope the community will take these messages to heart so that we can avoid the need for more progressively restrictive conservation measures this summer to prevent a water shortage that would impact all O‘ahu residents, businesses and government agencies.”

“We’re calling for a voluntary reduction now to conserve aquifer storage for summer demand, and need everyone’s kokua to avoid mandatory conservation,” she said, noting that these announcements supplement the BWS’s extensive and on-going outreach efforts to businesses and government agencies. “As the summer approaches, a time of the year that is typically drier and water use increases, water conservation will become even more critical.”

Residents and businesses can sign up to receive personalized WaterSmart reports to assess their water usage at

Lau, who has been the bearer of unpleasant news for the past eight years regarding Red Hill, finds he is continuing to serve in that role.

In 2014, when the U.S. Navy announced one of its underground fuel tanks at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility had been leaking, he stepped forward to forewarn the community about the potential catastrophic impact this facility could have on Oahu’s fresh, drinking water supply.

Back then, Lau’s message was clear: the Red Hill tanks were a disaster waiting to happen, and there would be ongoing risk to the aquifer, located just 100 feet below the bottoms of the twenty massive tanks. At the time, his message and others who voiced their concerns were viewed as unnecessarily alarming. They were the lone voices in the wilderness.

Pahinui emphasized that the duration of the voluntary water conservation efforts will be “performance-based.” If we see a drop in water usage, this will help alleviate the current water supply challenge and help to avoid implementing mandatory conservation measures this summer.

For charts that track the amount of water that the BWS pumps on a weekly basis for metropolitan Honolulu, the ‘Aiea and Halāwa area, and islandwide, go to

View the TV spots at


After water contamination issue was discovered in the Navy’s Red Hill Shaft and its water distribution system in late November 2021, the BWS was informed several days later and stopped operating the Hālawa shaft, located less than a mile from Red Hill on December 3, 2021, to prevent contamination from entering the BWS’s water distribution system. This resulted in a 20% decrease in the water supply for metropolitan Honolulu.

Several days later in early December 2021, the BWS was informed about possible contamination at the Navy’s ‘Aiea-Hālawa shaft. The BWS’s ‘Aiea well and Hālawa well were immediately shut down, again, to prevent contamination from entering the BWS’s water distribution system. These wells supply about 50% of the potable drinking water to the area stretching from Halawa industrial park to Hekaha Street.

These well closures are placing undue strain on the BWS’s water system. To compensate for the reduced water supply, the BWS’s pumps are pulling water from other sources to meet the water supply needs of the community. However, recent rainfall on O‘ahu has been below normal and this increased pumping is putting additional stress on our water system and reducing aquifer storage needed for summer water demands. Shifting too much pumping to the remaining sources in response to the Red Hill water contamination could draw up more brackish water located below the fresh water.

BWS is asking residents and businesses from ‘Aiea to Hawaii Kai to reduce their water use to curb demand and hopes that everyone, island wide will put into practice, good conservation measures.

About the Board of Water Supply

The Board of Water Supply (BWS), a semi-autonomous agency of the City and County of Honolulu, manages Oahu’s municipal water resources and distribution system.  As the largest water utility in the State, the BWS serves approximately one million customers on Oahu.  The BWS embraces its mission of “Water for Life – Ka Wai Ola” – to provide a safe, dependable, and affordable water supply, now and into the future.  Uwē  ka lani, ola ka honua – “When the heavens weep, the earth lives.”  For more information, visit, follow @BWSHonolulu or like the BWS’s Facebook page at



Kathleen Elliott-Pahinui
Information Officer
Honolulu Board of Water Supply
Phone: (808) 748-5319