You don't know how much you need it until it's gone. That's what hundreds of Kalaheo residents are experiencing after a pump that feeds water to the town of 4,600 people went offline.
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"We have a hot tub, so we're pulling water out of the hot tub and using that to rinse our dishes," said Kathy Cooper, a resident of the Kakela Makai subdivision where 199 homes are largely without water.
Kalaheo's water woes began after a pump at the bottom of a 1,000 foot shaft off of Poohiwi Road broke late Saturday night. As of noon Thursday more than 700 feet of pipe had been pulled out of the shaft by workers with Oasis Water Systems. Department of Water Acting Manager and Chief Engineer Kurt Akamine said the entire pipe must be removed to determine what's wrong with the pump, and repairs could last 4 to 6 weeks. Complicating matters is the fact that both of Kalaheo's water sources are offline and a second pump is also broken.
"The materials needed to repair it may take a long time to come to Kauai," said Akamine. "Then what we'll do is we'll start pulling the second pump that's broken and probably use parts off of that to start one pump."
To help alleviate the shortage the DOW has been diverting water from its Lawai service area to Kalaheo along Kaumualii Highway. However, the agency has been hard-pressed to meet the demand of residents, especially at Kakela Makai where a tank site has become a choke point.
"We're trying to bypass a control valve to see if we can get water to Kakela Makai because if we don't have enough pressure in the system, it doesn't open up," Akamine explained.
A possible solution to the bypass valve could be a temporary pipeline. DOW has announced the westbound lane of Kaumualii Highway will close from 7 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Friday so the pipeline can be installed.
"It's all potable water that's coming from Lawai," said Akamine.
Meanwhile for Kalaheo businesses, it's a case of the haves and have-nots. Kauai Kookie in the middle of town has had no issues with its water service, but DOW is warning everyone to prepare for low water pressure and intermittent outages.
"I guess we'll just have to make like Boy Scouts and do what we can to get ready to serve our customers," said Ann Hashisaka, co-owner of Kauai Kookie.
A short-distance away at the Kukuiolono Park and Golf Course, Birdie's Café has been shut down for two days as the 9-hole course remains completely without H2O. Birdie's owner Ron Horoshko may be forced to lay off as many as seven workers, but decided not to let his food go to waste.
"We're taking all the food we have and giving it to the Kauai Food Bank, and there's a lot of it," Horoshko told KITV4. "We're the only restaurant in Kalaheo that has to close."
Although the Kukuiolono Golf Course remains open, manager Pat Hunt is scrambling to find temporary restrooms.
"We have these weddings and things planned for our pavilion this weekend and so were trying to get Port-A-Potties or something like that," said Hunt. "We've only been open a little over a year-and-a-half and business is peaking right now."
DOW continues to ask the Kalaheo community for patience as repairs to the two water sources continue, and so far, residents are making do.
"Not too bad of a struggle yet, but I think we might have a long road ahead of us," said Kakela Makai resident Lisa Berry. "Brushing your teeth and washing your hands; you forget how much you use it, inside and outside."
Kauai County has setup water wagons near the entrance to Kukuiolono Park and on Milia Street in Kakela Makai. DOW is also providing a tanker with non-drinkable water at Kalaheo Neighborhood Center for toilet flushing only.
The county is also providing shower services at Hanapepe and Vindinha stadiums on Friday from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and again from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Residents are being told to bring their own toiletries and towels.
Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho and DOW officials have scheduled a meeting Saturday at noon at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center gymnasium to brief the community.