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Thursday, May 18, 2000

Voluntary water
conservation urged

The third dry winter has
caused a water deficit
with summer approaching

Water-saving tips

By Lori Tighe


You can still wash your car and ask for a glass of water at restaurants. Oahu's water shortage isn't that bad -- yet.

But the Honolulu Board of Water Supply has asked the public to voluntarily conserve water use throughout the summer.

The third straight dry winter has caused an island water deficit as the usually dry summer season approaches, said Chester Lao, hydrologist and geologist for the Board of Water Supply. "I don't recall in my 30 years, going through a third winter of dry rainfall on Oahu," Lao said. "Our concern is to alert people to conserve water to avoid mandatory restrictions."

February was particularly dry, as rainfall plunged 70 percent to 90 percent below normal, said Clifford Jamile, Board of Water Supply manager and chief engineer.

In Oahu's residential areas, rainfall plummeted even more, between 90 percent and 97 percent below normal, he said. Weather in residential areas determines pumpage, Jamile said, "and this drier than normal pattern results in higher consumption of water."

Residents now consume 147 million gallons of water daily, compared to 130 million gallons typical for this time of year.

If the water table drops below minimum alert levels, mandatory restrictions will be placed on the public to limit irrigation and other water uses.

"In the '80s, we imposed restrictions of watering plants and lawns on odd and even days based on your address," Lao recalled.

With the major plantations out of business, the water shortage isn't as dire a situation as it could be, he added.

But to make things worse, this summer is predicted to be even drier than normal, said Tim Craig, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service. The long-term climate forecast called for below median rainfall for the islands in June, July and August.

The last two dry winters have been blamed on El Nino and La Nina, the worldwide weather phenomenon of warmer water temperatures influencing tropical systems. But neither Lao or Craig know why last winter was also dry.

The Water Board hopes the voluntary cutback will reduce water consumption 10 percent.

Jamile said Oahu residents should "use all the water you need, but don't waste it."

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Water-saving tips

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply offers these tips to save water:

Bullet Use a trigger shutoff handle to stop the water flow from your. hose when you do wash your car
Bullet Water your lawn every other day. and do it in the morning.
Bullet Repair indoor and outdoor leaks.
Bullet Use water-saving devices on toilets, sinks and showers.
Bullet Take short showers instead of baths.
Bullet Wash full loads of dishes and laundry instead of smaller loads.
Bullet Sweep driveways and patios. instead hosing foliage off.

E-mail to City Desk

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