WAILUKU – If you ask Department of Water Supply Director Dave Taylor what keeps him awake at night, he might think of something lurking in the depths of a 647-foot-long tunnel.
A single, aging pump, accessible only by descending to the very bottom of “Shaft 33,” a 65-year-old well above Wailuku, is responsible for delivering more than 5 million gallons of water per day to Central and South Maui. If the pump were to fail, thousands of residents could be without water until it was repaired – and that would be a long wait, he said.
“This kind of thing would be very, very hard to fix,” he said. “It’s difficult even to get to.”
While voters clamor for the county to provide more water to a growing population – and politicians promise to deliver it – Taylor said one of his biggest jobs will be to remind people that the county first needs to take care of the water customers it already serves. And that can take a lot of time and money in a system that includes more than 750 miles of pipelines; infrastructure located deep in mountainous jungles; and century-old water intakes and ditches that must integrate with state-of-the-art treatment plants.
“All the discussion is about expanding service,” he said. “There’s very little discussion about what it takes to keep reliable service to existing customers.”
Calling Shaft 33 one of the system’s weakest links, Taylor said it’s imperative that the county continue a project that is already under way to replace the aging well with three smaller, modern ones tapping into the same aquifer.
WAILUKU – With mutual allegations of insincerity flying, the County Council Water Resources Committee on Tuesday decided to allow its resolution about exploring the possibility of acquiring the Piiholo South water well to expire.
However, committee Chairman Mike Victorino said he plans to revive the idea when the new council convenes in January.
Zachary Franks, co-managing director of Piiholo South, originally proposed selling his well to the Department of Water Supply, but he did not like the way the county responded. Tuesday, he asked the council to allow its resolution to expire.
“It was a complete failure,” he said.
He charged that Council Member Wayne Nishiki had introduced the resolution “with the primary, though unstated, purpose of derailing Kula Ridge. Prior to its introduction, Piiholo South, towards whom the resolution was putatively aimed, was not even notified by Mr. Nishiki of the resolution’s existence, let alone consulted with regard to its substance.”
When he did learn the framework of a proposal, he said it was “a disproportionate and unfair deal” that would have had Piiholo South “hand over” 95 percent of its well for free. That, he told, the committee “could never happen.”
Nishiki is not a member of the committee, but he usually attends its meetings. He was not present when Franks made his statement, but he came in later and accused Franks of not sincerely wanting to deal with the county. “As far as I am concerned, he can go back to the Mainland,” Nishiki said.