Maui News

Drought Forces Change in Upper Kula Water Source

September 5, 2013, 4:30 PM HST
* Updated September 6, 7:07 AM
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Upcountry water storage.  File Photo.

Upcountry water storage. File Photo.

By Wendy Osher

Water customers in Upper Kula are being taken off of the Olinda Water Treatment Facility due to near-empty conditions caused by drought in the Upcountry region, water officials announced today.

According to the announcement, Upper Kula residents will be getting their water instead from the Kamole WTF in Hāliʻimaile, the Piʻiholo WTF in Makawao, and the Poʻokela Well in Makawao.

By next week, DWS officials say Upper Kula customers may notice a change in water quality because the water coming from the lower elevations is disinfected with chlorine.  DWS officials explained that water from Olinda utilizes chloramines for disinfection, which does not have a chlorine smell.

Department officials began reducing production at the OWTF today saying normal production is about 1.7 MGD, but will be reduced to about 0.1 MGD or 100,000 gallons per day, enough to supply water for customers in the Olinda area only.


The department issued a drought watch for Upcountry Maui on Friday, due to continued “extremely dry weather conditions” and “low flows” into water reservoirs.


“We are asking customers to reduce water usage by 10% or more,” said department director Dave Taylor in a press release.

“Normally, daily average usage is about 6.9 MGD; however, the average demand for the past week has been 8.7 MGD” he said.

Water levels at a glance:


According to today’s water supply report, the 30 million gallon Waikamoi Reservoir is empty and the 100 MG Kahakapao Reservoir is at 25.8 MG.

Water levels at the Wailoa Ditch, which is the source for the Kamole WTF, was at 12.4% of the maximum flow today.

The Kamole WTF had 3.5 MG of surface water; Piʻiholo WTF in Makawao was at 32.6 MG, and the Poʻokela Well in Makawao was at 1.3 MG, according to today’s daily report.

DWS tips to conserve water:

  • 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.

Department officials issued a reminder to all Upcountry businesses and residents to check for leaks and conserve water until the winter rains can replenish the Upper Kula reservoirs.

***Supporting information courtesy Maui Department of Water Supply.

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