OAHU, Kauai--Drought Sparks Big Isle Emergency

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Oahu, Kauai may face water conservation

Drought sparks Big Isle emergency

By Pat Gee Star-Bulletin March 15, 2000

Oahu and Kauai water officials may soon ask residents to conserve water because of dry weather.

Already, officials on the Big Island have declared the entire island under drought conditions, and Maui is considering drought declarations.

Chester Lao, hydrologist-geologist of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, said customers will be "asked not to waste water" within the week, although the groundwater supply is still adequate.

Mandatory cutbacks will be implemented when all water levels are much lower around Oahu and "we're a long ways from that," Lao said, adding that the last time mandatory conservation went into effect was 16 years ago.

The rain gauge at Beretania Street shows Honolulu has "less than two inches of rainfall" compared to 2.6 inches last March, but "keep in mind at any given place on the island, things can change radically."

Ernest Lau of the Board of Water Supply on Kauai said the island has been "fairly dry" for the past six months. It hasn't yet affected the water supply significantly, but this month "we're going to start asking customers to conserve water through the summer."

"We're entering into drought-like conditions, and if they continue, things could become a bit more desperate," Lau said.

Lao of the Honolulu office said "this is the first time that there have been three successive years" of dry weather in the 30-plus years he has been with the water board. He credited residents' water-conservation efforts for getting through last year without a shortage.

Honolulu's average rainfall per year is 30 inches, but in 1999 and 1998 it dropped to about 20, said Lao, adding "it baffles me."

Kevin Kodama of the National Weather Service's forecast office said, "Of all the islands, Oahu is best off."


Drought conditions spark islandwide state of emergency on Big Island Star-Bulletin staff

HILO -- Mayor Stephen Yamashiro has extended a state of emergency declaration due to drought conditions to include the Districts of North and South Hilo and Puna.

The extension means the whole island is now in a state of emergency due to drought.

The declaration was expected following release of figures by the National Weather Service showing Hilo airport received just 0.58 inches of rain in February, the lowest since records began at the airport 58 years ago.

Yamashiro had made a previous emergency declaration in January 1998, then modified it in May, 1998 and July, 1999.

The declaration bans all open fires except those in a closed, screened, metal container, fires used for cooking, and small campfires.

) 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin http://starbulletin.com

-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), March 16, 2000

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