Maui News

Drought Watch for Upcountry Maui, 10% Conservation Urged

August 30, 2013, 10:21 PM HST
* Updated August 31, 11:50 AM
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There will be temporary lane closures along Upcountry Pi`ilani Highway between Papaka Road and the Auwahi Wind project site on Ulupalakua Ranch starting on December 10.  File photo by Wendy Osher.

Upcountry Pi`ilani Highway between Papaka Road and the Auwahi Wind project site on Ulupalakua Ranch.  File photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

The Maui Department of Water Supply today announced a drought watch for the Upcountry area of Maui, due to continued “extremely dry weather conditions” and “low flows” into water reservoirs.

The announcement was made by Maui Director of Water Supply Dave Taylor who issued a statement saying, “Inflows are low. If we do not get rain soon and demand remains high, we will have to implement mandatory cutbacks to preserve our water supply. If customers can use less, we can make it through without mandatory restrictions until the rains replenish the reservoirs.”

In the interim, Upcountry residents are urged to voluntarily conserve water by 10% or more until further notice, said department officials.  The drought watch goes into effect immediately, and includes the following areas: Haʻikū, Makawao, Olinda, Hāliʻimaile, Pukalani, Ōmaʻopio/Pūlehu, Kula, Kēōkea/Waiohuli, ʻUlupalakua, and Kanaio.

Authorities say the total average demand for the Upcountry water system for the past week was 8.5 MGD, compared to the 7.1 MGD of normal average demand.

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According to  information issued in a department press release, authorities say little or no rainfall has let to reduced supplies at various ditches and reservoirs, including: less than 40 million gallons per day flowing in the past week at the Wailoa Ditch, a primary Upcountry water source; only 33.4 million gallons of water at the Kahakapao reservoirs, which have a capacity to hold 100 MG; and empty conditions at the Waikamoi reservoirs.  Officials say the Poʻokela Well is operational, and adds 1.3 MGD to the system.

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Water officials say the short term weather forecast “does not show a likelihood of substantial rainfall.”

Some tips offered by the DWS to help residents conserve water include the following:

  • Check in and around homes for leaks;
  • Use water conservatively;
  • Install water saving devices where possible;
  • As a conservation measure, not washing cars, irrigating lawns or filling storage tanks or reservoirs;
  • Decreasing outdoor water use;
  • Installing free low-flow showerheads and leak detection dye tablets for toilets.  These items are available at One Main Plaza, Suite 102 in Wailuku.

To report leaks in the water system, the public can call (808) 270-7633.

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***Supporting information courtesy: County of Maui, Department of Water Supply.

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