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Here are some commonly asked questions that the Honolulu Board of Water Supply has received regarding the Navy water system issues and potential impact on Oahu's municipal water system.


I live near a military base, should I be concerned that my water is contaminated?

As long as you’re connected to the Board of Water Supply’s (BWS) water distribution system, then your water is safe to drink. In the normal course of operations, the Navy’s drinking water system and the BWS’s are not connected. There are 3-4 interconnections that allow the BWS to supply water at the request of the Navy during a water service emergency on the Navy’s side. These connections are generally open for few days at most and the BWS has certain equipment in place, commonly referred to as a “backflow preventer,” to ensure that providing emergency water to the Navy can be done safely and does not compromise the water in the BWS’s distribution system.

Manana Housing. Currently, we are using one of these emergency connections to send safe drinking water to Navy customers at Manana Housing and have been pumping water to this area at the request of the Navy since November 16, 2021. The Navy needs the BWS’s assistance while they repair a booster pump.

The BWS water going into the Navy system is safe to drink and we have not received any complaints about fuel odors or taste from customers receiving water from the aquifer in this area. The BWS is only providing the emergency water to the Navy at the interconnection. Once the water enters the Navy system, it is under the Navy’s control and we cannot speculate as to where precisely it flows or what happens to it once it leaves the BWS’s distribution system.

How do I know if am a Board of Water Supply customer?

There are a couple of ways to find out if your address is serviced by the BWS. This includes:

  1. You receive a monthly bill from the BWS.
  2. If you live in an apartment/condo/townhome, check with your association.
  3. You can look up your water quality report by entering your address at https://www.boardofwatersupply.com/water-quality/water-quality-report/search-ccr. If a report populates, then your address is serviced by the BWS.

You can also contact the BWS at 808-748-5041 or email contactus@hbws.org.

How do I know for sure that the BWS’s water system isn’t contaminated?

  • The Navy’s drinking water system and the BWS’s are not connected and are isolated from each other except for a few emergency connections (please see above).
  • All municipal drinking water sources are regularly tested according to EPA-mandated protocols and meet or exceed all requirements for safe drinking water.
  • Since 2014, in addition to EPA-mandated drinking water testing, the BWS has conducted extra testing of the water sources near the Red Hill fuel tanks. This additional testing is intended to detect any potential fuel contamination before it impacts the municipal water supply. And for the past eight years, the BWS has not detected any contamination from the Red Hill fuel tanks in nearby municipal drinking water sources.
  • So not only are the systems not connected, but both regular EPA testing and precautionary BWS testing of the water sources near Red Hill confirm that municipal drinking water around the island is not contaminated and remains safe to drink.

I live on the Windward side, could contamination from the Navy’s system enter my household?

The water sources that provide water service to residents in Windward Oahu are supplied from sources located in Windward Oahu and not those in the vicinity of Red Hill.  

Will those three recently shut down water sources ever come back into service?

Following the recent release of fuel from the Red Hill Facility, the BWS shut down three water sources (Aiea & Halawa Wells, and the Halawa Shaft) to protect against the potential that contamination might enter the BWS municipal water distribution system. These decisions were made from an abundance of caution after the Navy/DOH detected levels of fuel contamination in the military’s water system. The three sources will remain closed until further notice.

How frequently does the Board of Water Supply test its sources? Do we test for petroleum products?

The BWS conducts regular testing on our water sources to ensure compliance with all federal and state drinking water standards. Since 2014, in addition to EPA-mandated drinking water testing, the BWS has conducted extra testing of the water sources near the Red Hill fuel tanks. This additional testing is intended to detect any potential fuel contamination before it impacts the municipal water supply. And for the past eight years, the BWS has not detected any contamination from the Red Hill fuel tanks in nearby municipal drinking water sources. 

If the BWS’s system was to be come contaminated, how soon would the public be apprised of the issue?

BWS drinking water is not contaminated and remains safe to drink. However, if any of its sources were to be considered unsafe to drink in the future, the BWS would immediately inform the public and distribute information to all local media outlets (newspaper/radio/television). The BWS urges the public to proactively follow their local media outlets, check the BWS’s website, social media, HNL.info, and other communication channels to stay apprised of any updated information.

A special Red Hill landing page has been set up at www.boardofwatersupply.com. Click “Red Hill Update” to view news releases and other informational material related to this issue. 

Do you have any recommendation as to what type of water filter we should be using at home to protect ourselves from petroleum contamination?

A filtration system will remove the constituent that it is designed to remove. To learn more about what a filtration system can and cannot remove, we recommend that you contact the system manufacturer. As a government agency, the BWS does not recommend or endorse specific product or product names.

Since the BWS draws water from the same source as the Navy, what prevents water contamination to other nearby BWS wells?

When the Navy informed the BWS that two Navy water sources – Red Hill Shaft and Aiea-Halawa Shaft – were contaminated, as a precaution, and to prevent contamination of its own sources, the BWS stopped pumping three of its own wells – Halawa Shaft, Aiea Well, and Halawa Well.

To ensure the continued integrity of these sources, we are testing weekly and will provide these results on our website as they come available.

We are confident that the water served by the BWS has NOT been contaminated and compromised by the Navy’s Red Hill situation. Here is why:

  1. The Navy’s drinking water system and ours are NOT connected and are isolated from each other (with limited exceptions, please see above).
  2. All municipal drinking water sources are regularly tested according to EPA-mandated protocols and meet or exceed all requirements for safe drinking water.
  3. Since 2014, in addition to EPA-mandated drinking water testing, the BWS has conducted extra testing of the water sources near the Red Hill fuel tanks. This additional testing is intended to detect any potential fuel contamination before it impacts the municipal water supply. For the past eight years, the BWS has not detected any contamination from the Red Hill fuel tanks in nearby municipal drinking water sources.

Not only are the systems NOT connected, but both regular EPA testing and precautionary BWS testing of the water sources near Red Hill confirm that municipal drinking water around the island is not contaminated and remains safe to drink.  The BWS is committed to continued testing and will take every effort to protect the water supplied to its customers.

I live in Kapilina, formerly Iroquois Point. Is my water safe?

The BWS tests water from its own sources and distribution system.  Kapilina is on a private water system.  The BWS does not test that water system.  Please check with your water supplier about the safety of your water.

Is there a map that shows where our sources are located and the customers that it serves?

The BWS water system is considered “critical infrastructure,” and we are unable to disclose the locations of our wells. Currently, the BWS does not have a map that shows the areas that each of its wells predominantly services. We can share with you that together BWS wells contribute to the water supply in communities on Oahu from Aiea to Hawaii Kai.

Updated: 01/19/2021