Upcountry’s ‘low flows’ lead to drought watch

The director of the Department of Water Supply issued a drought watch for the Upcountry area Friday due to “extremely dry water conditions and low flows into the water reservoirs.”

Dave Taylor asked water customers to voluntarily conserve water by 10 percent or more until further notice. The affected areas include Haiku, Makawao, Olinda, Haliimaile, Pukalani, Omaopio/Pulehu, Kula, Keokea/Waiohuli, Ulupalakua and Kanaio.

Surface water sources are low and dwindling due to dry weather conditions, he said.

The Wailoa Ditch, a primary Upcountry water source that collects water from East Maui, has been flowing at less than 40 million gallons per day (mgd) for the past week, a water department news release said. The ditch has a 200-mgd capacity.

In addition, the 100-million-gallon Kahakapao reservoirs currently are only 33.4 million gallons full, and the Waikamoi reservoirs are empty, the news release said.

The Po’okela Well remains operational and adds a reliable 1.3 mgd to the Upcountry system.

Taylor said that conditions have been very dry in the watershed areas with little or no rainfall, and the short-term weather forecast does not show a likelihood of substantial rainfall.

“Inflows are low,” he said. “If we do not get rain soon and demand remains high, we will have to implement mandatory cutbacks to preserve our water supply. If customers can use less, we can make it through without mandatory restrictions until the rains replenish the reservoirs.”

The water department noted that demand on the Upcountry system this past week was 8.5 mgd, higher than the normal average demand of 7.1 mgd.

To help conserve water, consumers should check in and around homes for leaks, use water conservatively and install water-saving devices where possible. Suggested conservation methods include putting off washing cars, irrigating lawns or filling storage tanks or reservoirs.

Free low-flow shower heads and leak-detection dye tablets for toilets are available at One Main Plaza, Suite 102 in Wailuku.

For more information on how to save water, contact the water department at 463-3110. To report leaks in the water system, call 270-7633.