6 of 14 North Kona wells remain offline

Nearly half of the water wells serving the North Kona community remain offline, the county Department of Water Supply said Tuesday.

The department has 14 deep wells that provide water to the North Kona area, which spans from Makalei to about Honalo, and six remain offline, DWS Deputy Director Kawika Uyehara told the Board of Water Supply. The department has provided a monthly update to board members since 2017 when numerous wells were inoperable prompting a nearly yearlong 25% water restriction in North Kona.

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Repairs to one of those six down wells is nearing completion, Uyehara said. The Kahaluu well has its pump and motor installed, and was purged and chlorinated for operation.

“We’re going to run some water quality tests this week and hopefully we can have it ready to use early May,” he said.

The other five wells that remain down are Kalaoa, Palani, Waiaha, Keahuolu and Makalei, he said.

At the Kalaoa well, the contractor is expecting to start installation during the first week of May, with testing of the system taking place by mid-month.

Equipment to repair the Palani well should be on island during the first week of May and the contractor expects to begin installation shortly thereafter.

Delays to repairs to the Keahuolu well cropped up after the contractor found an issue with the new pump and motor while preparing it for installation. Uyehara said to maintain the unit’s warranty, the contractor and manufacturer decided to ship another motor to the island. It’s currently expected to arrive in mid-May with installation occurring thereafter.

No time frame was given for getting the Makalei well online.

“We continue to work with the developer to get their repair project out to bid,” Uyehara said.

Work on the Waiaha well is delayed because of a “litigative hold,” Uyehara said but didn’t provide additional details. The well has been offline for several years after a cable snapped during a botched extraction at the site in summer 2017 by Derrick’s Well Drilling and Pump Services, leaving the pump and motor within.

According to board minutes, the matter has been on “litigative hold” since late November 2018. On Nov. 27, 2018, Uyehara told the board that the department “received a letter from the contractor’s attorney. Because of the potential for litigation, the department will not provide further comment at this time.”

The last bidding opportunity related to Waiaha dates to 2018 when the county sought bids for well rehabilitation and redevelopment, aquifer pump testing and borehole alignment survey. According to board minutes, no bids were received.

The last bid awarded for the project dates to 2018 for the borehole survey.

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DWS declined to provide an update or comment about the matter. A check of court records turned up no active litigation for the department, the contractor or its agent.

Email Chelsea Jensen at cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com.

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