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Molokai faces water shortage


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POSTED: Sunday, July 19, 2009

Kaunakakai and Kalae residents on Molokai will need to conserve water through the end of the week or the towns will run out of water, county officials told residents and businesses yesterday.

A pump that provides drinking water to a storage tank broke on Thursday, county spokeswoman Mahina Martin said.

The water storage tank is about half-full but a “;safe”; level is considered 80 percent full, Martin said.

County water supply officials met with several hundred Molokai and business owners yesterday at the Kaunakakai Little League Ball Park to stress the urgency of limiting water use.

“;We went to the Molokai community to implore them to conserve,”; Martin said.

She said residents are asked to stop watering their lawns and washing vehicles and pets.

“;Those types of things are nonessential,”; she said.

A 5,000-gallon water tanker has been placed in Kaunakakai with one water tank for potable water and one for nonpotable water, she said.

If there is a fire in town, firefighters will likely tap into the county water supply, Martin said. But the fire department is also monitoring water levels in the storage tank and, if needed, water tankers are standing by.

Crews are working through the weekend to fix the pump, Martin said, but conservation measures may be needed until Friday.

The water situation is complicated because a state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands well also needs repairs.

But another DHHL well is now supplying water to the storage tank and, with conservation measures, water levels have stabilized for now, Martin said.

“;Folks are anxious, and that's understandable,”; she added. “;We want to reassure everyone we've taken a look, examined all the impacts, and we're taking proactive steps now to help them avoid that level of emergency (with water shut off).”;

Kazan Dela Cruz said she arrived at work at the popular Kanemitsu Bakery & Restaurant in Kaunakakai yesterday morning to find a pile of county notices to pass out to the bakery's customers.

“;It is an urgent public notice for areas from MCC (Maui Community College) to Manila Camp,”; she said.

Residents in the affected area with family or friends in the east end of Molokai are asked to go there to take showers as well as take other conservation measures, she said.

“;Our boss is waiting for information to see if they've got to close the bakery,”; Dela Cruz said. “;But on Molokai we usually pull together and I think it will work out fine.”;