US Army’s garrison in Hawaii put under water conservation rules after pumps fail

The Army has set up water distribution tanks across the Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Airfield to help mitigate the disruptions.
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Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii in 2018. (photo by 1st Lt. Ryan DeBooy/U.S. Army)

The U.S. Army garrison in Hawaii is currently conserving water after several water pumps failed this week. Soldiers, dependents and civilian contractors at the Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Airfield are asked to not use water for “nonessential purposes” for the immediate future while the Army waits for the necessary parts to fix the pumps.

The pump issue impacts approximately 14,000 people, including soldiers, civilian contractors and family and community members at the Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Airfield. . The issue came after several of the installation’s clear water pumps malfunctioned earlier this week, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii. Three pumps failed between Tuesday and Wednesday, a fourth failed on Thursday, after the garrison announced water conservation efforts. The water is still safe to drink, garrison officials said; the issue is just being able to pump them to distribution points. 

As of this morning, only one of the installation’s five clean water pumps are operational. The garrison has rented a second pump to help with providing water to the community. Currently the garrison has set up 14 water stations around the barracks and airfield to provide water to community members. The stations have potable water stored in Hippo containers (which can hold 2,000 gallons) and Buffalo containers (which can carry 400 gallons), with water provided from pumps off site. Officials said they do not anticipate the water tanks running out before the pumps are repaired. They are open from 5 a.m.-10 p.m. 

Replacement parts to fix the pumps are not expected to arrive until Monday or Tuesday, March 25-26. That’s due to their specialized nature, the garrison spokesman told Task & Purpose, but staff plan to “expedite their installation.”

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“We are committed to resolving this issue as swiftly as possible and have mobilized all available resources towards this end. Our priority remains the health and safety of all individuals on our installations,” the garrison said in a statement to Task & Purpose. “We will continue to provide updates through our official channels and are working closely with local authorities and community leaders to ensure everyone has access to safe drinking water and necessary services during this period.”

At a town hall on Friday, March 22 (and viewable on the garrison’s Facebook page), Maj. Gen. Marcus Evans, the commanding general for the 25th Infantry Division which is based at Schofield Barracks, apologized for the water disruption. He said that the garrison closed administrative buildings, turned off water at physical fitness centers, discontinued water usage at car washes and other efforts to preserve water. Dining facilities remain open, Evans said. While the installation waits for replacement parts, Evans said that some areas could lose water pressure and in a worst case scenario outright lose water. 

Evans said that the Army is prepared to move families to temporary housing in hotels if need be. Schools on the post are currently on spring break, so schools are not being closed due to the water conservation efforts. 

At Friday’s town hall, Evans said that the water is safe to drink, but said that anyone with concerns about the safety of the water at the base and at the distribution points should pass their concern up the chain of command.

Water conservation protocols are expected to be in place until the pumps are repaired.

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