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Navy estimates fix to water system early next week

Tap water running from the sink.
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The U.S. Navy is estimating repairs to its water system will be completed by early next week, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Commander Capt. Mark Sohaney said during a Tuesday press conference.

Since last Friday, the Navy has sustained four water main breaks. This has left those on the system on a boil water advisory.

"I need to ensure that I can provide water to 93,000 people in our community and simultaneously maintain base operations," Sohaney said. "I've said it before, we're working at the speed of safety because my No. 1 goal is the safety of our community."

Sohaney said the repairs will be as complex as the system itself.

"I want to stress that it's not like a simple water main break that is localized to one neighborhood," Sohaney said. "This is similar to a minute municipal water distribution system."

Issues began last week with a first water main break Friday in the Pearl Harbor area. Because the Navy had to divert water around this break, a pressure build-up caused two additional breaks down the line.

"When that main break occurred on Friday, I had to divert water to the west side of the base," Sohaney said. "Those lines are a little bit smaller and with that increased in pressure, we were anticipating follow-on breaks."

Two of the four breaks have been repaired, including one at Pearl City Peninsula and one at the Joint Base Annex at West Loch.

Navy system water users are asked to conserve water. The boil water advisory will remain in effect until the water is deemed safe in accordance with the state Department of Health for those on the system.

Those in Army housing have been cleared from the boil advisory, Sohaney said.

"The Army has two small housing areas of approximately 1,800 homes, and that portion of the system has an inline water filtration, allowing the boil water advisory to be lifted earlier," Sohaney said. "The Navy's housing areas are throughout the entire water system and we don't have that capability."

Childhood development centers, as well as gyms and pools, remain closed.

Because of this system mishap, Joint Task Force-Red Hill had to postpone unpacking 1 million gallons of fuel that are currently sitting within the pipes of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.

The breaks in the water lines impacted the systems that were being used to prepare for unpacking and the eventual defueling of the facility.

Sabrina Bodon is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact her at sbodon@hawaiipublicradio.org or 808-792-8252.
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