It’s deja vu: water woes affect surrounding Navy families

Alycia Abordonado and Ruben Chavez, staff writers

Here we go again. First Red Hill is plagued by water contamination affecting nearly 100,000 Oahu residents and now a four-pipe water-main breakage has affected them again. Last week Friday, October 14, Navy residents found themselves once again unable to use the water in their homes. At the Waiau Hawaiian Electric power station a 36-inch water main broke forcing the Navy to divert water from that pipe into the smaller surrounding ones, possibly causing three more water mains to burst.

Impacting around 93,00 Navy residents living in the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and surrounding residential communities. The water mains are still being repaired, with two breaks completed on Tuesday. The 36-inch water main was finally repaired Wednesday, but the system might not be back to normal until this weekend. 

Since the break on Friday pools, gyms, and child development centers have been closed with employees being put on call due to the water conditions.

“My older sister works at a child development center on Peltier Avenue,” senior Hannah Corpuz said. “Her [own] kids can’t go to the after-school to daycare, and she is on-call [at the care center] herself.”

The water main break may also have contaminated the water and Navy residents are urged to boil any water used or to use bottled water as a replacement. 

 Along with a water shortage there’s another problem at hand: non-potable water. The water isn’t just scarce, but it is also not safe to drink. 

“Out of an abundance of caution, even though our latest water samples are all negative for bacteria,” Navy Capt. Mark D. Sohaney told the local media last Friday. At the time, the Navy also urged families to boil water for at least one minute before drinking it. “We’ve got to conserve water. There’s a lot of ways to do that, but if you could put off doing a little laundry next Saturday, please think of things like that.”

Even though the large main has been repaired, the Navy said Wednesday that it will take several days before they can run the tests to make sure the water is safe to drink. Until then, the boiled and bottled water recommendations will need to remain in place.  

For those who remember, this water situation seems eerily similar to that of the AMR-Red Hill water crisis in late 2021 when fuel from the Red Hill storage tanks leaked into the Navy’s water system.

“It’s kind of like when we couldn’t use the water last fall. It’s been inconvenient because we have to use bottled water,,” senior Jason Harvey said.  in response to the events. 

With water once again dangerous to use without preparation residents are scrambling to conserve what they can while still using what they need. 

“You don’t realize how much you need water until you can’t use it,” Language Arts teacher and Navy spouse Katryna Fahlgren said.

“We have to use bottled water to wash dishes and cook, and we can’t water the plants or wash the car.”