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Water restrictions to start next week for Upcountry, West Maui

The Maui News

Maui County will begin imposing water restrictions on West and Upcountry Maui once a Stage 1 water shortage declaration takes effect June 30 due to dry conditions and record-high average temperatures.

Starting June 30, the Department of Water Supply will prohibit Upcountry and West Maui water consumers from using water for irrigation, watering lawns, washing vehicles or other nonessential activities, the county announced Thursday.

“As dry weather continues, reservoir levels and ditch flows will continue to drop, and it is likely that Upcountry water treatment facilities will not be able to keep up with demand,” Department of Water Supply Director Helene Kau said in a news release.

“Production at the Kamole Treatment Facility in Haliimaile has been adequate, with Wailoa Ditch flows averaging over 13 million gallons per day,” Kau explained. “Total average water consumption for Upcountry is about 8 million gallons per day. However, with dry weather continuing, we expect consumption to increase.”

A Stage 1 water shortage exists if the director determines that anticipated water demand in an area is projected to exceed available water supply by 1 to 15 percent.

The Hawaii Drought Monitor lists most of Maui island as abnormally dry, with more than half of Maui County in a severe drought. Areas of Upcountry and West Maui range from moderate to severe drought conditions, the map shows. The National Weather Service has warned of drier-than-average rainfall conditions for the summer and said that while there were some rains mid-May statewide, it wasn’t enough to ease drought in Maui County, leaving leeward Haleakala pastures “in very poor condition.”

Earlier this month, the department asked customers countywide to conserve water as much as possible during the summer months, saying it could possibly declare a water shortage in the coming weeks.

Reservoirs for the Piiholo and Olinda water treatment facilities are about 85 percent and 55 percent of capacity, respectively, the county said Thursday.

In West Maui, dry weather has reduced stream flows that supply raw water to the Lahaina and Mahinahina treatment facilities. Stream flows are inadequate for the Lahaina facility, according to the county.

“We are moving water from the Mahinahina Water Treatment Facility to supplement Lahaina,” Kau said. “The west side has two treatment plants with much less capacity than Upcountry. Any reduction of rainfall affects sources of water supply much more quickly.”

The department will impose mandatory water use restrictions next week to extend the community’s available supply of water until weather conditions improve.

Residents are asked to refrain from washing vehicles, watering lawns and continue to reduce other nonessential activities. The department recommends that consumers evaluate water use habits and implement long-term conservation measures such as fixing leaks and installing low-flow fixtures.

For more water-saving ideas, visit mauicounty.gov/water.

For more information, contact Department of Water Supply Administrative Officer Adam Mundy at (808) 270-8046.

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