Water emergency impacts thousands on Kauai

About 2,000 people who live or work in Kalaheo on Kauai have had to deal with water outages or low water pressure when a shaft in a well broke on Saturday. The Kauai Department of Water is installing a temporary water line from Lawai to Kalaheo along the Kaumualii Highway’s west-bound lane, and that could bring some relief to Kalaheo by no later than next Tuesday.

“Now, they may not be, pressure wise, fully able to get water at a high rate, but they will have water, said Mayor Barnard Carvalho, Jr. “So, the people, I’m letting them know. Please bear with us. We’re doing what we can.”

KHON2 asked Kim Tamaoka, Public Relations Specialist with the Kauai Department of Water, just how many people were affected. “We originally reported about 1600,” said Tamaoka. “But we later found out that a more accurate count is a little more than 2,000.”

Tamaoka says the first sign of trouble actually appeared on Saturday, when water officials noticed that levels were suddenly dropping. On Thursday, they discovered that the 1,000 foot long shaft had been severed which led to both water pumps serving Kalaheo shutting down. Tamaoka says since the parts are of a special design – it may take up to six weeks to get the pumps and the water service back to normal.

For now normal is making several trips to so-called buffalos which are portable tanks that supply fresh water.

“It’s really, really complicated, and takes a lot of my time because I don’t have a tanker,” said Marshal Aviguetero of Kalaheo. “I have eight horses and 12 dogs, and they need water.”

“I’d much rather not have electricity than have to function and go to work and be clean,” said Mindy Murray of Kalaheo.

Barbara Anderson is the manager of the Kalaheo Café and Coffee Company. “We are conserving as much as possible but if it continues to dissipate or gets worse we could close down and that’s a huge amount of business we’d be losing.”

The people of Kalaheo can draw water from so-called buffaloes portable containers parked at Kukuiolono Park and at Milia Street in Kakela Makai. There are also showers available at two locations at Hanapepe Stadium and at Vidinha Stadium. Residents must bring their own towels and toiletries.

Mayor Carvalho, Jr. says he feels he has the emergency well in hand but has reached out top Governor Neil Abercrombie just in case he needs extra assistance. The cause of the damage to the water shaft is still udner investigation. In the meantime, residents are urged to conserve water, and to use it only for essential needs.

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