Drowning In Water Main Breaks

Larry Price
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Wednesday - November 30, 2011
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I’m sure nobody is counting, but water main breaks are becoming a daily routine.

Residents and motorists in East Honolulu woke up last week to not one, but two separate water main breaks. Honolulu Board of Water Supply crews were repairing a 24-inch main on Kalanianaole Highway, east of Keahole Street in Hawaii Kai. The ruptured main left Koko Headbound lanes on Kalanianaole Highway closed for hours. Maunalua Bay Beach Park was left without water.

If that wasn’t enough, Kuliouou Road also was closed between Wakine Place and Keoki Place, where a crew worked on a 12-inch water main break. Traffic had to be rerouted onto Elelupe Road. Residents were left without water and had to seek out a water wagon in an area near the break site.

And if that wasn’t enough, a Board of Water Supply crew in Mililani worked around the clock to repair a broken 16-inch water main on Meheula Parkway at the busy Kuahelani Avenue intersection near the H-2 freeway interchange.

Southbound lanes on Meheula Parkway and both westbound lanes on Kuiahelani Avenue were closed all day and finally reopened the next morning. It was chaos, and water was all over the streets.

The obvious question is, what’s going on with our water main system? Or could this be the “lifetime employment plan” for the C&C in Honolulu?

It seems like we are averaging a water main break a week all over Oahu. Could our system be that old and unmaintained?

If any of these breaks had occurred with the APEC summit was in town, it would have been disastrous. Imagine if the water mains in Waikiki had chosen to rupture when all those world leaders were here.

One has to wonder where the money for all the overtime is coming from. The poor Board of Water Supply maintenance crews must be exhausted from all the overtime work. For the public, it’s the uncertainty about which water main is going to explode next. It’s so unpredictable.

Maybe what we need is a schedule to update water mains on Oahu before they rupture. I mean, if we can spend millions on APEC, why can’t we spend some major bucks on maintaining our water mains?

It seems like the smart thing to do: Maintain them before they break, not afterward.

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