Under voluntary curbs, Upcountry water consumption shows no decline

The Maui News – The county water department’s call for voluntary water restrictions Upcountry moved into its fourth week this week with the department reporting Wednesday that “there has been no noticeable decline in consumption overall.”

The Department of Water Supply issued the Stage 1 Water Shortage declaration July 18, which called for Upcountry residents to conserve and avoid unnecessary use of water. The declaration was made with the approval of Mayor Alan Arakawa because of drought conditions that project demand to exceed water supply by 1 to 15 percent.

The department said that conservation could prevent escalation to Stage 2 or 3, which would involve increases in water rates to curtail use.

When asked how close Upcountry is to a Stage 2 declaration, water department spokeswoman Jan Inouye-Ogata said Wednesday that “it is hard to say because we cannot predict the weather.” She noted that Director Dave Taylor has said that Stage 2 could be called in two weeks if all inflows of water stopped — which is always the case.

Pointing to the ongoing dry weather forecast for the rest of the summer and into the fall, Inouye-Ogata said “that is the key parameter.”

“We can easily go from completely full reservoirs to a Stage 3 in about one month if it gets really dry,” she said.

On Wednesday, the water department reported the 100 million-gallon Kahakapao Reservoirs at 92 percent full and the 50 million-gallon Piiholo Reservoir at 84 percent full. The 30 million-gallon Waikamoi Reservoirs were 36 percent full and East Maui Irrigation’s Wailoa Ditch, from which the county draws, was running at 22.6 million gallons a day, or 11.3 percent of capacity.

The water department noted that consumption has not decreased notably since the Stage 1 declaration and offered tips for conserving water:

• Look for leaks and repair them right away. Check faucets and pipes for dripping water. Replace washers and repair or replace fixtures if needed.

• Add food coloring to the toilet tank water, don’t flush and check the water in 15 minutes. If there’s color in the toilet bowl, it means that there is a leak.

• Install low-flow fixtures by obtaining free low-flow shower heads, faucet aerators, toilet bags and hose nozzles from the Department of Water Supply Water Resources and Planning Division office at One Main Plaza, Suite 102, in Wailuku. Business hours are 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays; the number is 463-3110. Business hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.