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Local, federal stakeholders finalize flushing process for contaminated Navy water system

Navy Flushes Hickam Elementary School Water System faucet
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeremy Lemmon Jr./Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (Jan. 10, 2022) - A faucet is opened to flush the water system at Hickam Elementary School. The Interagency Drinking Water System Team is a joint initiative between the U.S. Navy, the Hawaiʻi Department of Health, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army to restore safe drinking water. (U.S. Navy photo)

A coalition of stakeholders finalized the process on Thursday by which the Navy will flush its water distribution system and attempt to rid it of jet fuel contamination.

The Interagency Drinking Water System Team is made up of the state Department of Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Army, and the Navy.

The team was created last December to align and streamline the process of cleaning up the Navy’s water system in the Pearl Harbor area.

Step one includes flushing each zone of the Navy’s water distribution system. Samples will be sent to as many as six certified laboratories for testing.

The flushing is expected to take 12 to 17 days to complete, and if test results show the water is still unsafe, another round of flushing would take place.

Step two involves the flushing of homes, businesses, and individual facilities. The Navy says a representative sample of the water in residences and buildings will be tested. That process could take 25 to 27 days to complete, barring another round of flushing.

Step three is a determination by the team that the water is safe.

The state Department of Health would make the final decision based on a review of the testing data. The DOH would then post the testing information, while the Army and Navy would also provide updates through social media.

That would put the timeline to begin to allow residents to return to their homes in late February at the earliest.

This week, a top Navy official told members of the House Armed Services Committee that he expected residents to be allowed back by late January to mid-February.

Navy water system flushing schedule
U.S. Navy
The Navy drinking water restoration plan was released on Jan. 13, 2022.

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