Pearl Harbor Base Says Water Is Safe to Drink After Water Main Fix

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A water sample is taken on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
A Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command contractor collects a water sample on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam as part of an interagency-approved plan for long-term monitoring of drinking water. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mar’Queon A. D. Tramble)

The leaders of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, say that the base has recovered from its latest water crisis after a base-wide boil advisory was lifted Friday.

The base's commander, Capt. Mark Sohaney, said in a letter posted on Facebook dated Friday that the latest round of tests "showed no bacteria present in your water system," leading him to lift the last remaining restriction that followed a large break in a water main on Oct. 14.

The break, which was followed by a series of smaller ruptures, led not only to the boil advisory but the shuttering of many base services, with the installation telling some workers to stay home in an effort to conserve water.

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In the days following the break, Sohaney told the public that he expected repairs to take 7 to 10 days. While those repairs were underway, the base began to open some facilities such as child development centers and fitness facilities.

On Oct. 19, the Navy announced that the original 36-inch water main break had been repaired but that those on base shouldn't use water without boiling it first until testing could be done. Sohaney's letter noted that the latest test results -- the ones that prompted him to finally lift the boil advisory on Friday -- were reviewed and certified by Hawaii's Department of Health.

Aside from snarling life on base for service members and families, the water main break also caused delays in plans to start removing fuel from the now-shuttered Red Hill fuel storage facility.

The massive fuel holding depot spilled large amounts of fuel into the same base's water last fall, likely sickening nearly 2,000 residents and forcing hundreds to seek medical treatment.

The Navy originally planned to begin removing the nearly 1 million gallons of fuel from the facility on Oct. 17, but the water main break pushed that to Oct. 25, according to a press release from the task force overseeing the project.

With the water system now repaired, the base also announced it would halt handing out bottled water, though Sohaney noted in a brief video posted Friday that he was keeping the response center and informational phone lines running through the weekend.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at konstantin.toropin@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

Related: Pearl Harbor Residents Lose Drinking Water Again After Trauma of Red Hill Spills

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