Water Emergency Conservation Notice, Tips and FAQs

From the County Department of Water Supply:


The Department of Water Supply is advising all customers to conserve water when Iselle hits Hawai‘i County due to high winds and/or flooding that could disrupt power supply to water sources.
Customers should store drinking water now for use during the storm in the event water service is shut off.
Water and wastewater systems may be compromised if electricity cannot be supplied to power the pumps and motors in the distribution and transmission systems.
In the event of a power outage, the Department of Water Supply may shut off valves and isolate tanks to reduce risk of damage and water loss. If this occurs, water will be restored as soon as it is safe for personnel to go out and open lines and flush if necessary.
All irrigation systems and other non-essential uses of water should be shut off until further notice. Unnecessary use of the wastewater system should also be minimized.
Customers should listen for County Civil Defense updates and are requested to call the 24-hour service line (961-8790) only if a water problem occurs.


The Department of Water Supply (DWS) urges residents to have their emergency preparedness kits ready. The kit should include at least one gallon of water stored, per person, per day for at least five to seven days, for drinking and sanitation purposes.

How to Store Water
To properly store water, you should:
• Use clean containers. Do not use containers that stored food with strong odors (mayonnaise, pickles, etc.) as the water will pick up the odor during storage.
• Disinfect containers. Wash containers thoroughly, then rinse it in a mild bleach solution (one capful of liquid bleach to one gallon of water), and then rinse thoroughly.
• Fill container with water from the tap. Fill the container to the top, keeping a minimal amount of air between the water and the cap. Store it in a cool, dark place.
• Optional – boiling or bleach disinfection. If you prefer, you can boil water before storing it. You should boil the water for at least three minutes, let it cool down until it is slightly warm, fill the containers, and then seal and store immediately. Liquid bleach may also be used to disinfect water that has not been boiled. Add one drop of bleach per gallon of water and seal and store immediately.
The DWS is also asking customers to stay tuned to news reports.

What to Do in a Storm
If a hurricane hits Hawaii Island, causing a power outage, the following should be implemented:
• Stay tuned to news reports.
• During an electrical power outage keep water use to an absolute minimum. If electrical service has been disrupted, the outage will also affect DWS’s pumps and equipment.
o Immediately begin water conservation measures. Use water sparingly. Water should be used for essentials: cooking, drinking and sanitation. Do not wash cars or water lawns.
o Turn off or disconnect any devices or fixtures that regularly draw water. Such devices include automatic icemakers and irrigation systems.
• Keep toilet flushing to a minimum.
More emergency preparedness information is available at www.hawaiicounty.gov/civil-defense. The DWS is actively monitoring Hurricane Iselle and is coordinating our emergency response plan with Hawaii County Civil Defense.

Frequently Asked Questions for Drinking Water in Emergency Weather Events

1. How do I know if my water is safe during a storm, prolonged power outage, etc? Monitor your TV, radio and computer for up to date information and advisories being broadcasted by the local County and State civil defense agencies. These agencies are disseminating information from police, fire, DOH, DOE, bus and transportation officials, utilities like HECO, Board of Water Supply, etc on a regular basis. We can also contact the water supply agencies to pass on reports of storm related problems such as main breaks, discolored water, odors or loss in water pressure.

2. How do I chlorinate my tap water to store during an emergency? Add between 1-8 drops of new, unscented liquid bleach with a strength of 5-6% (like Clorox) to each gallon of water. Fill a clean container; add the chlorine and let the water stand for at least 30 minutes before using. One drop per gallon produces a chlorine residual of approximately 0.7 ppm (parts per million), which is strong enough for storage of normal tap water in a clean container for the short duration after an outage. If you feel that the quality of your water supply may be compromised (see next question), then add more drops of chlorine to maintain a slight chlorine odor 30 minutes after mixing. Water that cannot maintain a chlorine odor should not be used.

3. What if my tap water or water source is cloudy, colored or has visible particulate matter in it? Do not drink this water if there is an alternative, cleaner source. If this water must be used, let the water stand until the heavier solids settle out. Pour the water through a clean cloth filter into another clean container. Chemically disinfect by adding 1-8 drops of new, unscented liquid bleach with a strength of 5-6% (like Clorox) or boil the water for a minimum of 1 minute at rolling boil for safer use.

4. Can I boil my water to make it drinkable too? Yes, bring your water to a rolling boil for a minimum of 1 minute, cool down and store in a sterilized/disinfected container. Note that this primarily improves bacteriological water quality. The boiling may in fact concentrate minerals, salts and metals – which should not pose a public health threat for short term use.

5. Can I store it in a container? Yes, but use clean containers that have no food or chemical odors. Do not use containers used to store household or garden chemicals! If you do not know what was in the container previously, don’t use it. 2-liter soda bottles have been cited as good for temporary storage of emergency water supplies. Wash the bottles with soap, and sterilize or chemically disinfect the container before use by adding 1 teaspoon of unscented liquid household bleach to 1 quart of water, mix so the water touches all surfaces, (see links below), rinse thoroughly, fill with clean drinking water and cap tightly. Store in a cool, dark place.

6. How about a bath tub? Do not use a bath tub as a source of drinking water. Bath tubs are difficult to seal off from contamination because of their size and shape, and have soap films on the surface that can harbor bacteria and therefore are nearly impossible to sterilize. A toilet is usually located in the same enclosed room which exposes the tub water to aerosols from every flush. Water stored in a bath tub can be used as a source of water for sanitary purposes, e.g. toilet flushing water.

7. How do I call the County water supply to let them know of a water system break or problem? (you may also be referred to their Customer Service line)
Hawaii Department of Water Supply: 961-8790

8. Can you send me an emergency link?
a. State Department of Health (storing/preparing water containers): http://www.ready.gov/water and http://www.ready.gov/managing-water
b. US EPA: http://water.epa.gov/aboutow/ogwdw/upload/2006_09_14_faq_fs_emergency-disinfection-drinkingwater-2006.pdf
c. Hawaii State Civil Defense: http://www.scd.hawaii.gov/documents/FEMA477.pdf
d. Hawaii County Civil Defense: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/civil-defense/
e. Hawaii County Department of Water Supply: http://www.hawaiidws.org/

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