Nu'uanu Dam #1 levels continue to lower, pumping will last through weekend
Tropical Storm Olivia dumped more than seven inches of rain over Nu`uanu filling a Board of Water Supply dam to near precautionary levels.
HONOLULU (KITV) - UPDATE AT 5:02 A.M. : The Board of Water Supply (BWS) says water levels at Nu'uanu Dam #1 have been lowered by 16 inches. Crews are averaging about 1 in. per hour. Crews will continue to pump the dam and lower water levels through out the weekend.
Many Nu'uanu residents were in a state of panic Thursday morning after being alerted a dam was approaching dangerous levels that could trigger evacuations.
City officials were discussing possible public evacuation notifications for thousands.
"I was scared because I couldn’t tell from what was online the notice, Where they were exactly going to be evacuating? Which 10,000 residents when? What was the probability," Lisa Sequin, Nu`uanu resident said.
The Board of Water Supply (BWS) says evacuations are highly unlikely but needed to alert the potential of it because water levels rose near the spillway. That's about 3.5 feet below the reservoir's banks.
"The water level rose four to five feet just over the evening. Because of that, we felt this morning it would be more proactive and basically out of the abundance of caution to try and lower the water level even more," Ernie Lau, BWS chief engineer, said.
Crews worked for hours to pump out water. Honolulu firefighters were called to the scene as well because the utilities pumps weren't bringing down levels quick enough. Lau says the dam is not in danger of collapsing.
"We’re not anywhere close to that. I want to stress that.. We want people to know that when you live below a damn if it were to fail these areas would be the areas we want to evacuate before the failure of a dam but were no where close to that," Lau said.
Homes sit right in front of the 26 million gallon dam above country club road. the reservoir is much smaller than its counterpart reservoir number 4- a site once used by many to catch cat fish.
Emergency management officials say if an evacuation were necessary, they'd have about an hour to inform residents.
"We believe that using resources from the city fire police and also department of emergency management volunteer corps we can successfully conduct that notification before the failure occurs in time for folks to evacuate," Hirokazu Toiya, Department of Emergency Management, said.
Jonny Hirata's childhood home falls within the potential evacuation zone. He says this incident's made him think twice about what could take place.
"We never even gave two thoughts to it about the damn collapsing so we never even thought about what we would do if it did," Jonny Hirata, who has a family home in front of dam, said.