Board of Water Supply Says Residents Should Worry About Future of Drinking Water

Posted in: Drinking Water News, United States Water News, Water Contamination
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Article courtesy of | June 17, 2015 | khon2 | Shared as educational material

Are you worried about your drinking water? The Board of Water Supply thinks you should be.

Concerns over Oahu’s drinking water prompted the utility to reach out to residents over what they call “a serious threat.”

It all stems from the jet fuel leak from a Navy storage facility in Red Hill last year. More than 27,000 gallons of fuel spilled underground, about a hundred feet above the groundwater aquifer.

BWS says the water is safe for now, but it’s worried about the future, so it wants residents to speak out and ensure the Navy takes action soon.

The Navy owns 20 fuel tanks in the Red Hill area and BWS tells us the aquifer underneath those tanks provides more than 25 percent of the water to residents from Moanalua to Hawaii Kai.

More than a year after the spill, BWS still wants more answers.

“How far has that contamination spread? What type of contaminants? How deep into the water table or the aquifer have those contaminants dissolved and moved?” said BWS manager Ernest Lau.

(Photo credit: khon2)

The Moanalua Booster and Wells is the closest facility to where the jet fuel leak occurred. Water there is being tested regularly and so far BWS says the water is safe.

But Lau says he’s worried about the near future. BWS is working with the Navy, state Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency to put together what’s known as an Administrative Order on Consent or AOC. It spells out what needs to be done if all parties agree.

It includes double-lining the fuel tanks, installing advanced leak detection and cleaning up the fuel that has spilled. The problem, BWS says, is that the Navy wants to do a study for two years before taking action.

“I think they need to proceed to actually implement some of the recommendations the Navy has done many studies through the years,” Lau said.

The health department says it’s best to take a look at what technology is out there first. “Basically we’ll have a better approach to how to minimize leaks and protect the ground water resource which is what we all really want,” said Stuart Yamada, environmental management division chief with the Department of Health.

There are already small levels of fuel found in the water supplied to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, but Yamada says there’s little risk of contaminating other wells by waiting two years.

“We are seeing very trace levels and sporadic occurrence in the Navy drinking water source that does concern us, but we think it gives us time to do things right,” he said.

The Board of Water Supply wants you to voice your concerns and you’ll have a chance to do that at a public meeting Thursday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Moanalua Middle School. A representative for the Navy will be there.

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