Upcountry Maui warned of drought
As reservoir levels continue to drop, residents are asked to conserve water
WAILUKU » Maui's Upcountry residents have been asked to take water conservation measures, in light of a continuing drop in reservoir flows due to dry weather.
County Mayor Alan Arakawa said he also has instructed county facilities in Upcountry areas to modify their water usage.
The voluntary request extends to people living along the slopes of Haleakala, from Haiku to Kanaio.
County spokeswoman Ellen Pelissero said that as of yesterday the flow from the major ditch system supplying the Upcountry area was less than 13 percent of its capacity.
While reservoir levels have dropped, Pelissero said, the county would be able to pump enough water from lower elevations if residents conserve water.
She warned that the county might have to go to mandatory restrictions if consumption exceeds pumping.
"We are pumping like crazy to avoid that," she said.
Conservation measures she listed include washing dishes in cold water instead of running the tap until it is hot.
Customers are also urged to cut back irrigation of lawns, water only after sundown or before the sun rises, check for leaks and use water only as necessary.
The dry conditions are affecting farmers, including Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.
Hawaiian Commercial's Stephen Holaday said the plantation has decided to slow down its planting of crops for a week to 10 days because it does not have enough water.
"We're very, very short on water," he said.
National Weather Service officials said all of Maui County is abnormally dry, including the Valley Isle, Lanai and Molokai.
Jim Weyman, meteorologist in charge, said the weather service planned by the end of this week to reclassify the Leeward areas of the Valley Isle from "abnormally dry" to "moderate drought."
The state has not had much rain since March, he said.
Weyman said if the state goes into an El Nino condition, there will be lower-than-normal rainfall.