waiwai e-newsletter
Tuesday, August 2, 2022 | Issue 08

Red Hill is a Shared Community
Responsibility and Priority

Protecting all of O‘ahu’s aquifers, including the island’s main aquifer located just 100 feet below the U.S. Navy’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, must be a shared responsibility and priority for everyone in Hawai‘i.

That was a message that came through loud and clear from all of the panelists at a session titled, “Ola i ka Wai: Crisis at Kapūkakī” at the recent Council on Native Hawaiian Advancement’s 21st annual conference. The panelists included: Ernie Lau, manager and chief engineer of the Board of Water Supply; Kathleen Ho, the Hawaii Department of Health’s deputy director of environmental health; Wayne Tanaka, executive director of the Sierra Club of Hawai‘i, and Rear Admiral Stephen Barnett, commander of the Navy Region in Hawai‘i.

Na‘alehu Anthony, Board of Water Supply board member, who moderated the panel discussion, noted that it was the first time all of the parties had shared a stage together, underscoring CNHA’s ability to bring different people together to the table.

An important component of the Board of Water Supply’s mission is to ensure there is a dependable water supply to meet the needs of O‘ahu residents, now and into the future. This means protecting essential groundwater sources, including aquifers. The Board of Water Supply is no longer the only organization voicing concerns. The Department of Health, the Navy and Sierra Club also echoed the Board of Water Supply’s concern and commitment to make the aquifer a priority, and the hundreds of conference attendees were urged to do their part by relentlessly staying on top of this issue by asking questions and demanding greater transparency and accountability.


Twin Goals: Defueling the Red Hill Tanks
and Recovery of the Aquifer

Addressing the Red Hill crisis requires a two-pronged approach, according to the experts at the Council of Native Hawaiian Advancement session.

First, the U.S Navy must develop a carefully designed plan to defuel the Red Hill storage tanks to prevent any potential ongoing fuel contamination of the aquifer. The Department of Health has asked the Navy to revisit the plan of action it had recently submitted to ensure it addresses all of the requirements to safely empty the fuel tanks. This is an important first step.

Second, there is a need to restore the aquifer so that everyone can be assured the water from the aquifer is safe to drink.

These are two separate but related priorities that are important next steps to begin a path toward recovery. 

Ernie Lau, BWS manager and chief engineer, told the CNHA attendees that BWS has recommended the need for monitoring wells to gauge the extent of contamination of the fuel plume in the aquifer.

“Water is never stagnant and is always moving,” he emphasized. “The preferential pathway of water is the path of least resistance.”

Lau noted that water typically flows mauka to makai, but because of the unique geography of the area, the water underground may be traveling in a westerly direction, traveling across the valleys. He said it may be prudent to drill as many as 100 monitoring wells throughout Halāwa Valley and Moanalua Valley.


WaterWisdom Wednesday

Many City and County of Honolulu leaders have recently shared their views and concerns about the Red Hill water contamination crisis and have reiterated the importance of water conservation.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi and City Council Chair Tommy Waters recently did interviews for the WaterWisdom Wednesday segments, sponsored by the Board of Water Supply. Click the links below to watch the segments that aired on Hawaii News Now’s Sunrise morning news.





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Seven Summer Tips to Reduce
Your Outdoor Water Use

It is estimated that about half of our water use is for the outdoors, primarily to water lawns and gardens or to wash cars. However, there are simple ways you can conserve water and cut your water bills:

  1. Replace your grass with plants that require less water. Consider planting drought-tolerant or drought-resistant plants and trees that are well suited for your area of the island. Native Hawaiian plants in general require less water and maintenance.
  2. Improve the quality of your soil by adding organic matter such as compost or manure. This can help soil absorb and retain water longer.
  3. Mulches such as decaying leaves or bark can protect the soil from direct sunlight, which can dry out the soil. Mulches also help to minimize evaporation and can break down over time to enrich topsoil for better water absorption.
  4. Water your outdoor landscape in the early morning or early evening when temperatures are cooler to avoid moisture from evaporating. Do not water your yard when it rains.
  5. Recycle indoor water for your plants. Instead of letting the water that you use to clean your vegetables or to rinse your rice go down the drain, why not water your outdoor plants!
  6. Use a broom to clean driveways, patios, and sidewalks instead of hosing down dirt or debris with water.
  7. Get a rain barrel catchment system to collect rainwater to water your landscape. A rain barrel can be placed near your roof’s gutter downspouts. For every one inch of rainfall, up to 600 gallons of water can be collected from a 1,000-square foot rooftop. That’s the equivalent of enough water to fill 12 large fish tanks! Click here for more details the Board of Water Supply’s rain barrel rebate program.


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Posted: 06/23/2022