Wise water use should
be habit, not punishment


The Board of Water Supply asks that residents, businesses and government conserve water because use has increased to record levels.

VOLUNTARY steps to conserve water now may prevent required restrictions later this summer, so Oahu residents and businesses should heed the Board of Water Supply's request to limit lawn and plant watering to three days a week. The board is asking for the reduction because consumption in the past three months has reached record levels, but mindful use ought to be a routine rather than an occasional practice.

Many people do not make a conscious effort to check their consumption. That's because Oahu's supplies have not been seriously threatened in the past. Now, in the midst of a hot summer season following several years of drought and dry winters, water levels at a number of wells across the island have dropped by 2 feet since May 2002, enough for the board to be concerned. Officials say pumping less water is necessary to "rest" these wells so that aquifers can recover.

The voluntary restrictions aren't burdensome. Residents are being asked to confine irrigation to Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m., when evaporation would be lessened. Businesses, government and the military also are being asked to stick to the schedule. The board is calling for landscapers to put off planting new lawns, which require saturation, and for organizations to postpone car wash fund-raisers.

A positive result of the restrictions comes at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, which will replace its toilets and faucets with low-flow devices in hopes of cutting its consumption by 10 percent. That could make a big difference since the campus is one of Oahu's largest users at 1 million gallons a day, costing UH $150,000 a year. Refitting the plumbing will take some time. Nonetheless, it is a good strategy for the long term, one that should be adopted at all government facilities.

Water conservation should be a common daily practice since demand surely will increase as housing developments and population grow. Although they may seem measureless, water resources aren't. Drought has taxed Oahu supplies, dropping levels at some stations and wells to "caution" and "alert" status, the first and second degrees of concern.

Cutting consumption isn't tough. Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving saves 3 gallons per minute. When showering, use water just to wet down and rinse off; the savings average about 21 gallons. Wait until dishwashers and washing machines are full before running them and make sure there are no leaky faucets around the house. Sweeping driveways and lanais instead of hosing them down and using a bucket to wash the car can conserve as much as 10 gallons a minute.

The last time Oahu residents faced mandatory restrictions was from June to December 1984. Careless use of water under current conditions would be inviting a similar inconvenience.



Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek and military newspapers

David Black, Dan Case, Larry Johnson,
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Matsumoto, Jeffrey Watanabe,
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