Wells Coming Back on Hawai‘i Island

Jul 26, 2017

Credit Steve A Johnson / Flickr

The west side of the Big Island has had water trouble all year. Customers in North Kona remain under mandatory restrictions—cutting their use by 25 percent. But relief should be on the way in a couple of months.  HPR contributing reporter Sherry Bracken has more from Kona.


Keith Okamoto, head of Hawai'i County Department of Water Supply, says there are currently four wells out of service.  But next Monday, there should only be three.

“The Waiha’a Well, that one will be finished by July 31.”

Okamoto says users still need to cut back their use by 25 percent, but restrictions may end by late September.

“The next two coming online will be Palani and Hualālai. We’re anticipating getting the pumps and motors in late August. We’re going to get them up and running as soon as possible. We’re optimistic for September.”

Okamoto says that should mean loosening the 25 percent cutback.  But the question still remains, why did more than half of the North Kona mountain wells go out of service?

“We’re still figuring these things out. End of April, end of May last year, we had Hualālai and Palani go down. We didn’t have Hualālai figured out. The past two repairs only lasted six months. The last repair we did, we pretty much replaced every major component, and even that only lasted six months. Palani went down ten months after it initially started up, within the warranty period. We didn’t initiate a contract for well repair right off the bat because we didn’t quite figure out what really went wrong. “

Okamoto says wells are customized based on depth of the well and the total capacity needed.  The new approach will focus on standardizing as much as possible.

“Revising our well construction standards, stay away from large capacity single wells that take a lot of horsepower, lot of gallons per minute. If the need is there, we’re gonna put in two medium size wells. If one goes down, we still have the other one. The challenge is acquiring the land.”

The final well, Keopu, should be back in service no later than December—and Okamoto says, hopefully sooner.