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Posted on: September 10, 2020

Drought conditions bring temporary change to Upper Kula water system

Ongoing drought conditions have triggered operational changes for domestic water supply delivery to about 2,000 customers on the Upper Kula water system, according to the Department of Water Supply.

Beginning Monday, Sept. 21, water supplied to the Upper Kula water system will be treated with chlorine disinfectant instead of chloramines. This is because water will be pumped uphill to the Olinda Water Treatment Plant from the Piiholo Water Treatment Plant, which disinfects water with chlorine. A written notice will be provided to all affected customers.

The drought has left the Olinda Water Treatment Facility with an insufficient supply of water to operate efficiently and provide for fire protection. The Olinda plant disinfects its water with chloramines because the water it receives from surface sources has a higher organic content, and chloramines do a better job of disinfecting water with more organic matter.

The change will affect the Upper Kula water system only. Customers in the Olinda area will not be affected. Chlorine is the same disinfectant used in the Lower Kula and Makawao water systems.

In addition, this temporary conversion to chlorine will also have the beneficial effect of reducing possible bacterial growth that may be occurring in the system, particularly at the end of waterlines or in customers’ homes. Many utilities throughout the country use chloramines as a distribution system disinfectant, and they routinely convert to chlorine temporarily to hinder bacterial growth in their systems.

Upper Kula customers may notice a chlorine taste and smell to their water during the temporary disinfectant conversion. This is normal and poses no health risk. Drinking water may be kept in a pitcher and refrigerated prior to consumption to allow the chlorine to dissipate and should reduce any chlorine smell or taste.

For kidney dialysis patients:  The processes already in place to remove chloramines in the water will remove chlorine.  No change or adjustment is needed.

For fish aquarium owners:  If you have a filter that removes chloramines, no change or adjustment is needed.  For fish tanks without filters, you may want to let the water sit for a few hours before adding it to your fish tank so the chlorine can dissipate.

If you have any questions about your water quality, please call the DWS Laboratory at 270-7550, or go to For health concerns, please call the Maui District Office of the State Department of Health at 984-8200.                                             

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