Copper wire thieves are to blame for water outage

Copper thieves are out there, and they’ll do anything to get the goods.

The Board of Water Supply was hit twice this week by copper thieves.

At the end of Kalihi Street, deep in Kalihi Valley, you’ll find the Board of Water Supply property.

There is a “no trespassing” sign but apparently neither that nor the lock have been stopping copper thieves.

“Well it’s definitely frustrating,” Board of Water Supply Spokesperson Jill Kuramoto said.

Board of Water Supply crews and a disposal team were called back out to that area Friday afternoon.

Kuramoto said: “This is the second time vandals have broken into our site and actually gone into our system and cut wires, copper wires that were important to our operating system.”

Important because the copper wires were part of a telemetry cable which would transmit information about the water levels in the reservoir.

“They damaged the communication system the first time and that disabled the ability to monitor from remotely what’s happening at the reservoirs,” Kuramoto said.

And that’s why many residents in Kalihi didn’t have water on Sunday. The Board of Water Supply didn’t realize how low the water level was.

“So this time around it didn’t affect water service, which is a good thing but it did damage our operating system,” Kuramoto said.

Even though the cable is used by the Board of Water Supply, it’s actually owned by Hawaiian Telcom.

A Hawaiian Telcom spokesperson says about 2,000 feet of copper was stolen this time around.

“So what happened the second time we know that vandals actually burnt the insulation around the copper wires to get to the wires themselves,” Kuramoto said.

KHON2 asked: “What are you folks doing to prevent this from happening again?”

Kuramoto replied: “Well, we are looking at ways to increase security at the site. That’s under investigation.  And what we do need now from the community is their cooperation and help in looking out and making sure we don’t have suspicious activity around there, if you do see something please call the police.”

Police have opened copper theft cases, but so far no arrest in either case.

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