Sunday | December 10, 2017
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HOVE deep well was last repaired in 2016

KAILUA-KONA — Based on repair history, the HOVE deep well appears to be another in a string of downed Hawaii Island wells that have fallen victim to premature equipment failure.

It’s not possible yet to make that determination with certainty, as HOVE failed Thursday and the Hawaii County Department of Water Supply has only just begun troubleshooting to assess the cause.

But if the well went down due to a problem with the pump or motor, the timeline provided by DWS via email Friday would place HOVE in a group of deep wells that all failed far more quickly than expected — including those at the Hualalai, Keahuolu, Waiaha and Honokohau sites in North Kona.

DWS has previously said deep well life after the installation of new equipment should maintain for between 5-7 years, sometimes longer.

Ka‘iulani Matsumoto, DWS interim information and education specialist, wrote in an email to West Hawaii Today Friday that HOVE was last repaired in September 2016. Before that, it underwent repairs in April 2013. The well first came online in May 2011.

HOVE is the only county water source serving Hawaiian Ocean View Estates and the Ranchos area in Ka‘u, where catchment is commonly utilized. It is not a “regular water distribution system,” instead supplying a spigot and standpipe station on a site separate from where the well and tank are situated.

Keith Okamoto, DWS manager-chief engineer, said Thursday the HOVE spigots remain open to the public, but DWS has asked those who use them to do so for potable needs only.

Matsumoto explained options and standard protocol those people who rely on HOVE, in part or in full, should observe.

“Residents with catchment systems that depend on water haulers should monitor their storage volumes as they normally would,” she wrote.

“Water haulers still have access to standpipe facilities in Naalehu to haul water from. The DWS also has spigot facilities in Hookena and Waiohinu for (the) public’s potable water needs.”

As for the North Kona system, four wells remain down — those at Hualalai, Keahuolu, Waiaha and Keopu. Thus, a mandatory 25 percent water usage restriction remains in effect for the entire system.

The Keopu deep well, undergoing its first repair since it was constructed in 2009, is slated to return to service Dec. 20.

Repaired in late July, the well at Waiaha suffered a setback almost immediately. When attempting to extract equipment from the well, a lifting cable snapped and the pump, motor, power cable and the majority of the column pipe plummeted back into the earth.

The DWS history and repair status information sheet, dated Nov. 15, indicates that efforts to remove the equipment from the well are ongoing.

“If removal is successful, the well will need to be inspected for any damages,” the sheet says.

“The pump, motor, column pipe, and power cable will need to be replaced to prevent an unknown weakened component causing a failure in the future.”

There is no timetable for Waiaha’s return, or for the return of either Hualalai or Keahuolu.

DWS indicated on its website that it has awarded a contract to repair an existing motor for installation at Hualalai, but that the department is also considering re-engineering the overall well site because of several, frequent failures.

The department still believes it’s possible that Keahuolu’s problems originated “top-side,” meaning the pump and motor may remain functional. DWS added on its website that more testing at Keahuolu will commence in December once equipment replacements arrive on island.

 

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