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Navy says it has cut irrigation use by 50% amid water shortage

Navy Flushes Hickam Elementary School Water System faucet
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeremy Lemmon Jr./Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet
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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)

The Navy says it is doing its part to conserve water on Oʻahu in response to a request from the Board of Water Supply.

Capt. Randall Harmeyer is the Public Works Officer for Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, or NAVFAC. He says the biggest step they’ve taken is cutting back on irrigation.

"Our irrigation has been reduced by roughly 50%. So the irrigation used in our housing communities as well as some of the main landscaped areas of the base – our golf courses and athletic fields – that’s been cut significantly, so that saves about 2 to 3 million gallons a day, which is a little over 10% of our overall normal use," Harmeyer said.

Harmeyer says another water-saving measure is the installation of thousands of low-flow showerheads in public areas such as swimming pools and fitness facilities, as well as in barracks and dorms.

Single-family homes on the Navy’s water system do not have individual meters but residents have been encouraged to conserve.

The Board of Water Supply has urged Oʻahu residents to reduce water usage by 10% because of a lack of rainfall and the closure of three of its wells.

Those wells were shut down following fuel contamination of the Navy’s water system due to leaks at the Red Hill storage facility.

This interview aired on The Conversation on April 21, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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