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Water Director: Drought Canceled in Upcountry Maui

March 18, 2013, 4:56 PM HST · Updated March 22, 4:41 PM
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The Pu'u Mahoe cinder cone, located mauka of the Ulupalakua Ranch Store and Winery along the southern slopes of Haleakala was green with foliage during a recent visit. The site is home to the Flemming Arboretum and a variety of native and endangered plants. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The Pu’u Mahoe cinder cone, located mauka of the Ulupalakua Ranch Store and Winery along the southern slopes of Haleakala was green with foliage during a recent visit. The site is home to the Flemming Arboretum and a variety of native and endangered plants. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

The drought watch for Upcountry Maui was officially lifted on Friday, March 15, after nearly four years of voluntary restrictions, said county water department officials.

The restrictions were lifted by Maui Director of Water Supply Dave Taylor who joined the department in offering thanks to the Upcountry community for their patience and cooperation in water conservation.

“The Upcountry area will always be susceptible to drought and the DWS recommends that all customers continue to use water wisely.  It is very likely that drought conditions will return later in the year,” said Director Taylor in a department issued press release.

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A voluntary 5% cutback in water use was recommended for Upcountry residents on June 25, 2009. The recommendation included Haiku, Makawao, Olinda, Haliimaile, Pukalani, Omaopio/Pulehu, Kula, Keokea/Waiohuli, Ulupalakua, and Kanaio. Exempt from the request were customers with agricultural water rates.

Maui Department of Water Supply Administrative Officer Jacky Takakura noted that the following water conditions existed as of Monday morning, March 18, 2013: Wailoa Ditch: Flows were at 45.6 million gallons per day or 22.8% of capacity.

Piiholo Water Treatment Facility:  The reservoir is full at 50.0MG, with production at 2.1MG, providing water to both the Makawao and Lower Kula water systems.

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Kamole Water Treatment Facility:  Production was 0.1 million gallons for the previous 24-hour period due to the new high lift booster pump installation project.  With the Piiholo Reservoir nearly full, the DWS utilized the Piiholo facility to provide water to the lower elevations, effectively saving on pumping cost, according to officials.

Waikamoi and Kahakapao Reservoirs: The 30MG Waikamoi Reservoirs are empty, according to department officials; the 100MG Kahakapao reservoirs are at 85.2%.

Olinda Water Treatment Facility:  Facility production was 1.5MG. Total water consumption (including groundwater sources) for all of Upcountry was 6.0 MG.

At last report, the Maui Department of Water Supply had maintained its longstanding request for a 10% reduction in water use by Central and South Maui residents–that report was issued earlier this month by the National Weather Service as part of the agency’s latest drought information statement.

Maui Department of Water Supply Administrative Officer Jacky Takakura also confirmed that the Central/South Maui drought was declared on August 23, 2007.

According to the report, the most severe drought conditions or D3 “extreme drought” exist in Kihei, Lower Kula, Ulupalakua, and the Lower Kaupo areas of Maui.  D2 or “severe drought” conditions remained, mainly over west Molokai, South Lana’i, and the lower elevations of West Maui from Ma’alaea to Lahaina.

The report was issued on March 7, with the next statement due out in April.

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