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Vandalized Molokai water tanks deemed safe

The Maui News

Water restrictions for hundreds of users of two Hoolehua water tanks on Molokai were lifted Wednesday by the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

The state Department of Health completed microbiological and chemical testing of the Hoolehua water system and determined that the water was safe for normal use, according to a DHHL news release Wednesday night.

DHHL had issued a water-use advisory as a precautionary measure after the covers to the two 3.5 million-gallon tanks were vandalized and breached Tuesday, DHHL officials said. Residents were urged to find alternative sources of water for drinking, cooking and washing.

“We would like to thank our homesteaders and the residents of Molokai for their patience and understanding as well as Maui County, the state Department of Health and the state Department of Education for their continued cooperation in this matter,” said Jobie M.K. Masagatani, chairman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission and director of the DHHL.

Molokai High, Molokai Middle, Maunaloa Elementary and Kualapuu Public Charter schools were closed Wednesday due to the water situation.

The county Department of Water Supply provided a 15,000-gallon water supply truck to provide drinking water, DHHL said Wednesday. This provided another source in addition to the fire hydrant next to the Kulana ‘Oiwi Conference Room.

The tanks, located just north of Kualapuu, serve about 1,800 consumers in the Hoolehua, Kalae, Kalamaula and Palaau communities, most of whom are Hawaiian homesteaders.

The locks to the lids on both tanks were cut and the heavy duty steel lid on one of the tanks was completely removed, said DHHL spokeswoman Kuuwehi Hiraishi said. The cover on the other tank was partially removed.

She had no idea what the vandals were up to. The DHHL said it will continue to cooperate with the Maui Police Department in its ongoing investigation.