Weeks before the start of summer, lawns are brown, hillsides are parched and Hawaii is experiencing some of the worst drought conditions in the country.
Due to the El Niño phenomenon, rainfall across the state has been well below normal. After an abnormally dry winter, Maui residents can expect an arid spring season, the state Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM) reported last week.
“Hawaii is suffering from drought, and the current El Niño has exacerbated the situation,” said Ken Kawahara, the commission’s deputy director.
The panel wants Maui residents and businesses to be conscious of drought conditions, help conserve water and prevent potentially deadly wildfires.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Hawaii is under drought conditions ranging from D0 (abnormally dry) to an unprecedented D4 (exceptional drought).
What can you and your family do to help? Small steps make a difference: irrigate lawns between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. to minimize evaporation, take shorter showers, turn the water off while brushing your teeth or shaving, run only full loads of laundry or dishes, repair leaks in your home or business system, wash your car with a bucket or hose with shutoff nozzle, and use a broom to clean your driveway, not precious water.
“By conserving water, we may be able to avoid mandatory water restrictions that could be imposed by the county water departments or private water utilities as we move into the drier months of the year,” said Kawahara. “Use all the water you need, but please don’t waste it.”
On the safety front, the National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings, because critical fire weather conditions are happening in some areas of the state.
Massive wildfires have occurred throughout West Maui from Maalaea to Kaanapali, shutting down Honoapiilani Highway, stranding residents and visitors, putting firefighters at risk and destroying homes.
Campers, beach barbecue hosts and off-road vehicle riders are urged to use caution.
“Everyone should be extremely careful with fires when enjoying the outdoors,” said Kawahara. “Practically all wildfires in Hawaii are caused by carelessness.”
Call 911 immediately to report any and all fire activities that appear suspicious. And to find out more ways to conserve water, visit the Hawaii Drought Monitor website at http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/drought/preparedness.htm#waterconservation or the county Department of Water Supply via co.maui.hi.us/.