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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions during and after a main break has been repaired. You may also reference this PDF guide on Repairing Water Main Breaks.

During a Repair

When will service be restored?

BWS crews work to restore water service as quickly and as safely as possible. It is difficult to estimate when service can be restored, however, because we may need to address unforeseen issues and need to make water system adjustments before restoring service.

The road is clear. Why isn't my water back on?

For some repaired mains, especially along coastal areas or near streams, additional water quality testing may be necessary. This process can take up to 24 hours to complete. During that time, customers affected by the break will typically have access to water wagons until testing is finished.

After a Repair

How do I know my water is safe to drink?

When a water main break occurs, BWS crews do several things to ensure that the water from a repaired main is safe to drink when the work is done. They will:

  1. FLOW water through the main, at a low rate, while excavating to repair the broken main. This prevents debris from entering the water line. The water flow is only shut off when water cannot flow back into the water system.
  2. DISINFECT the new section of pipe before installing it.
  3. FLUSH water through the repaired line to ensure the water is fit for consumption, to protect public health and ensure water quality.

What if my water is discolored?

In most cases, customers will not notice any difference in their water after a main break occurs. However, there are some occasions where area customers may notice temporary discoloration of their water.

For example, water that appears milky is typically caused by tiny air bubbles in the line. This results from construction that vibrates the pipe. Air bubbles in pipes do not affect the quality or safety of the water. Generally, if you let the water sit, the bubbles will dissipate.

If a customer notices any discoloration in their water, flushing out property lines usually addresses this concern. Simply run a large faucet (like a bathtub) or hose bib for a few minutes to get rid of the air and color. If the issue persists, customers may call the BWS 24-hour water trouble line at (808) 748-5000, ext. 1 for further instruction or assistance.

How do I get rid of air in my water line?

If you suspect air in your lines, the easiest way to address this is to open a large tap, such as a bathtub faucet, while all other taps remain closed. Run the tape for five minutes, while monitoring for hissing or spitting sounds that may indicate air is still in the lines. Continue to run the water until no hissing or spitting sounds or additional air bubbles are released.

How do I flush my property's water lines?

To flush your property's water lines, you will need to run all your taps for approximately five minutes. Before you begin, be sure to remove the aerator or screen from any fixture. This will help to prevent any build-up from accumulating on them.

  1. Check the main water supply valve to ensure the water in the house is turned on.
  2. Starting with the faucet closest to the main water supply valve, turn on every outside faucet and then go inside the home. In a single-story home, begin with the tap closest to and end at the tap farthest from the main water supply valve. If you live in a multi-level residence, start with the highest tap on the top floor, and then move down to the bottom of the house.
  3. Let the water run about five minutes. While the water is running, flush each toilet a couple of times.
  4. After the five minutes have passed, turn off the taps in the reverse order.
  5. Clean the aerators or screens and reattach them to the faucets.

What if I need to file a claim?

A customer who experiences damage as a result of a main break may file a claim with the BWS for reimbursement consideration. For more information, call (808) 748-5041 or email contactus@hbws.org.


What is BWS doing to prevent main breaks in the future?

  • Replacing portions of the system that are most vulnerable to breaks and most critical to service dependability.
  • Extending the life of water mains in areas of highest corrosion potential.
  • Conducting forensic analysis to determine the primary causes of main breaks and identify changes to design, construction, and operation.
  • Pinpointing small cracks or holes for repair.
  • Encouraging customers to reduce water use and adjusting operations to increase efficiency, which reduces water being pumped through the system and means less stress on pipelines.
  • Developed a 30-year Water Master Plan to identify and prioritize long-term improvements.
  • Developed a 30-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP).