Water testing is continuing in areas of Olinda and Lāhainā burned by recent wildfires but unsafe water advisories remain in effect, county officials said this week.
Since Aug. 11, water in areas of Upcountry and Lāhainā that were affected by wildfires has been considered unsafe to drink, according to Maui County Water Department officials.
The advisory in Lāhainā includes neighborhoods from Puamana to Leialiʻi Parkway, according to the county. In Kula, the affected area spans from Waiʻale Gulch to just beyond Ulupalakua.
On Aug. 23, laboratory results confirmed that the volatile organic compound toluene was detected in samples taken from the Olinda neighborhood adjacent to Waihou Spring Forest Reserve as well as Kaniau Road — where benzene and ethylbenzene were also detected — and the Waipuka Tank on Lahainaluna Road in Lāhainā. Contaminants were not detected in any other of the areas that were tested.
The Upcountry sample points that showed contaminants in its test results are not highlighted on the Department of Water Supply’s water advisory area map, which was last updated Aug. 24.
“While the initial results are reassuring, the Maui DWS’ Unsafe Water Advisories remain in place at this time,” state Department of Health officials said in an Aug. 24 news release. “The process to amend the Unsafe Water Advisory will be based on a comprehensive review of multiple lines of evidence.”
Officials are advising residents to avoid using tap water, with a warning that boiling it will not make it safe to consume. Instead, they’re advising that customers only use bottled water for drinking, brushing teeth, making ice and preparing food.
Additional advisories for residents in the affected areas include: Limiting the use of hot water; limiting shower and bathing time and use lukewarm water in a ventilated area; using a dishwasher to wash dishes followed by the air dry setting; washing clothes in cold water; avoiding clothes dryers; not using hot tubs or swimming pools; not using ice from automatic ice makers; and always having proper ventilation when using water indoors.
“Failure to follow this advisory could result in illness, according to the department and state Department of Health,” officials said in an earlier news release.
Safe drinking water sites have been set up throughout Lāhainā and parts of Kula.