County seeks public input on Puna water restoration projects

Puna residents are being asked to submit feedback about a range of water restoration projects Hawaii County could pursue using federal funds.

The Department of Water Supply has about $30 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to restore water infrastructure damaged by the 2018 Kilauea eruption, and the department has 13 proposed restoration and improvement projects it could pursue in Puna using the money.

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However, because all the projects would collectively cost about $55 million to complete, the county is asking for input from the public before finalizing its plans.

Among the proposed projects is a replacement of the water line to Isaac Hale Beach Park, which would be a necessary step in restoring the Pohoiki Boat Ramp to operational capacity.

DWS Chief Engineer Keith Okamoto said during a public informational meeting earlier this month that such a project would cost between $5.4 and $6.6 million.

It is still not entirely clear whether restoring the four miles of water line to the park is even possible. According to a statement from recoveryspokesman Tom Callis, the residual heat within the lava could mean that standard buried water lines will not be possible.

“Restoring water infrastructure in an eruption area like this would be a first, and we are aware that there will be areas with persistent heating,” Callis wrote.

“We are committed to exploring whatever engineering solutions are feasible to get this project done and receive approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” Callis’ statement continued. “If this project ultimately is not feasible, the Department of Water Supply has identified providing water service for an off-site boat wash near the intersection of Pohoiki Road and Highway 132 as a contingency.”

In the meeting earlier this month, Okamoto said the boat wash project is estimated to cost between $90,000 and $110,000.

Other potential water projects identified include:

• Kalapana water line remediation (estimated cost: $135,000-$165,000);

• Nanawale water line improvements ($2.7-$3.3 million);

• Post Office Road water line improvements ($900,000-$1.1 million);

• Pahoa Village water line improvements ($2.7-$3.3 million);

• Hawaiian Paradise Park water line improvements ($5.85-$7.15 million);

• Keaau well and reservoir improvements ($17.2-21.1 million);

• Keaau Well B-Phase 2 improvements ($5.4-$6.6 million);

• Olaa No. 6 well generator purchase for emergency backup power and Olaa No. 3 well emergency transfer switch ($450,000-$550,000);

• Olaa No. 3 Well B improvements for increased capacity and resilience ($6.3-$7.7 million);

• Insertion valve tool and valves to increase system resilience ($225,000-$275,000);

• Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition equipment for Keonepoko Nui, Pahoa, and Olaa wells. ($900,000-$1.1 million).

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Residents are invited to an informational Zoom meeting from 3:30-5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, to discuss the projects. Residents can register for the meeting at bit.ly/punawaterprojects or submit feedback at recovery.hawaiicounty.gov/revitalizepuna.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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