Water Board
praises usage cuts

The public seems to be
heeding calls to consume less water
while supply is low

Four days into voluntary restrictions on water consumption, the public seems to be making a good-faith effort to cut back, Honolulu Board of Water Supply officials announced yesterday.

Water Board customers used an average of 172 million gallons a day of water for the week that ended Wednesday. That is actually 4 million gallons a day more than the week before, when an average of 168 million gallons a day was used, but the board is considering it a sign of conservation that usage did not "jump back up" to the average of 178 million gallons a day consumed the week ending July 23, spokeswoman Denise DeCosta said. The comparison makes sense, she said, because the weeks ending Wednesday and July 23 "had similar hot, muggy weather."

Last Saturday, the Water Board asked customers to voluntarily limit landscape and yard watering to before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The board cited well levels that are below normal because of prolonged drought.

If the voluntary cutbacks do not reduce usage by 10 percent, the board will make them mandatory.

Since the announcement, people have been calling in to ask questions about the guidelines and to report neighbors who are not observing them, said DeCosta.

She said the most frequent questions are, "Can I water my potted plants every day?" and "Can I wash my car?" It's OK to water your potted plants as needed, DeCosta said. And it's OK to wash your car.

She recommends using a hose with a cut-off valve and doing the job while parked on your lawn, so the runoff waters the grass.

Hawaii Pacific University's Windward campus has switched to the new schedule, said Rick Stepien, vice president of administration. One exception is a sloped area near a new parking lot that is being watered more often until grass takes hold, he said. Stepien said the university has low-flow shower heads and always replaces toilets with low-flow models as part of its effort to get usage under 18,000 gallons a day.

Barry Usagawa, the board's principal executive of water resources, noted that a number of large water consumers have made impressive steps to conserve in recent years. Still, over the next months, he said, his staff will be meeting with many of the top 100 water users to help them find more ways to cut back.

Only one entity that uses potable water, the city parks department, has been granted an exception to the watering guidelines, DeCosta said. The department will water on the Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday schedule where it has programmable sprinkler systems, but is allowed to water Monday, Wednesday and Friday at parks with manual systems to fit within the regular workweek.

Parks, golf courses and other facilities that use recycled water are exempted from the watering schedule, DeCosta said.

The parks department asks anyone who sees leaking or malfunctioning sprinklers to please call 692-5775 or e-mail


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