by Andrew Walden
Is the Board of Water Supply just blowing smoke?
Since shutting down Halawa Shaft and Aiea and Halawa wells in early December, BWS statements have become increasingly apocalyptic.
Just don’t ask them to get specific.
On December 24, 2020, Hawaii News Now reported:
The Red Hill water crisis has the potential to prevent and even halt constructions projects in Aiea and Halawa, all the way to Hawaii Kai, according to Board of Water Supply officials.
With three wells currently out of service, BWS is warning builders they might not be able to approve everyone’s application for water service….
BWS Chief Engineer Ernest Lau says if you’re planning a project or in the process of construction, “They should come in and talk to us right away.”
Depending on where the project is located, Lau says getting approved for water could be an issue.
Even if the agency has already signed off on your application, officials say under the current circumstances, service is not guaranteed.
“We want to be able to try and handle the growth and water demand. But under these circumstances right now, we’re going to have to look at what we can accommodate safely without detrimental effect on water service to our existing customers,” Lau said.
He added that multiple communities could be impacted, particularly those that feed off the Halawa Aiea Water System.
“It’s from the area of Iwaene Street in Halawa, all the way up to Hekaha Street on the west side,” Lau said.
On top of that, Lau said other neighborhoods that could be affected are from the Halawa industrial area where the correctional facility is located all the way out to Kalama Valley in Hawaii Kai….
Sounds pretty specific, doesn't it?
Not so fast.
Citing this quote, Hawai’i Free Press asked BWS how the well shutdowns could affect the Aloha Stadium redevelopment project and the new jail proposed for Halawa.
BWS spokesperson Kathleen M. Elliott-Pahinui responded December 30, 2021:
“It is too early for the BWS to comment on specific projects. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as information comes available.”
This is all about Congress.
On one hand, BWS wants to enlist the building trades to campaign for Congress to approve military appropriations for a billion-dollar fuel tank project.
On the other hand, BWS doesn’t want to threaten pork projects already slated for Oahu.
Hawaii’s Congressional delegation January 5, 2022, says: “The Navy must …begin the process of planning and executing the safe removal of fuel…. Defueling safely will require a coordinated effort, and the delegation will do everything possible to support this effort.”
The US House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Readiness, which includes Rep Kai Kahele, has set the first Congressional hearing for Tuesday, January 11, 2022: “Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility: The Current Crisis, the Response, and the Way Forward.”