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Preparations underway to flush buildings and homes throughout Navy water system

Red Hill water filter 121521
Hun Chustine Minoda/60th Air Mobility Wing Public Af
Personnel assigned to the 60th Aerial Port Squadron prepare a Modular Carbon Adsorption System to be loaded onto a K loader Dec. 15, 2021, at Travis Air Force Base, California. The Modular Carbon Adsorption Systems are destined for Red Hill, Hawaiʻi, as part of the U.S. Transportation Command Red Hill water movement.

The Navy says it will assist any residents of military housing who need help flushing their water systems.

Preparations are underway to flush the Navy’s water distribution infrastructure. That will eventually expand to include individual homes where residents have complained for weeks about a petroleum odor and oily sheen to their tap water.

To ensure that contaminated water is not returned to the environment, Navy Commander John Daly says they are bringing in large carbon filtration units to clean the water.

"So the fate of those contaminants we know this to be that they — the contaminant that’s in our system will go into that media and then it can be safely removed later. So we’re flying these units in from the mainland, they were procured under an emergency-style contract," Daly said.

Officials say flushing the water in homes involves more than simply turning on the tap.

Clean water will have to be run through appliances such as the water heater, refrigerator, dishwasher and washing machine before they can be used.

The Navy says it is working with stakeholders — including the state Department of Health and researchers from Purdue University — to finalize a plan to flush the distribution system, as well as guidelines for residents to make sure their water is safe.

Scott Kim is a news editor at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact him at
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