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Repairs to the Navy’s broken water mains on Oahu will take an estimated seven to 10 days, Navy leadership said, but gyms, pools and most child development centers will remain closed.

Repairs to the Navy’s broken water mains on Oahu will take an estimated seven to 10 days, Navy leadership said, but gyms, pools and most child development centers will remain closed. (Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam/Facebook)

(Tribune News Service) — Repairs to the Navy's broken water mains on Oahu will take an estimated seven to 10 days, Navy leadership said, but gyms, pools and most child development centers will remain closed.

In a livestreamed virtual town hall Sunday afternoon, Capt. Mark Sohaney, commander of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, provided the timeline to fix three water mains in the Navy's water system that all ruptured Friday.

"Hopefully it's shorter, but I would plan on seven to 10 days," he said.

The main breaks, part of a water system connected to 93,000 people, have prompted a boil-water advisory, led to fluctuations in water pressure and closed a variety of facilities using the water.

The most concerning of the three main breaks is of a 36-inch main at the Waiau Hawaiian Electric power station. Public Works Officer Cmdr. Robert Kleinman, who participated with Sohaney during the virtual town hall, described the break as a crack along the entire edge of a 20-foot cast iron pipe.

Gyms, pools and 11 of the Navy's 12 child development centers, which together serve 5,000 children, will be closed today, Sohaney said. The Wahiawa Annex CDC will remain open, as it's supplied by a different water system.

Affected schools other than Iroquois Point Elementary School will be open today. The state Department of Education in a news release announced the closure after Sohaney initially said all schools would be open.

"The military did deliver a water buffalo and cases of water for consumption, hand washing and cooking, but there is insufficient water pressure on campus to flush toilets, which presents a health and safety issue," the DOE said in an email.

The Navy is conserving water to reduce the fluctuation in pressure users can be experiencing and to keep its water system replenished. Closing facilities like gyms, pools and child development centers and limiting the Navy's workforce to personnel who can "execute our critical missions" will help in water conservation efforts, Sohaney said.

He also put out a call to users to conserve water.

"We've got to conserve water. There's a lot of ways to do that, but if you could put off doing a little laundry next Saturday, please think of things like that," he said, adding that he's stopped irrigation at JBPHH.

The Red Hill fuel unpacking, or pipe system defueling, also has been delayed until the broken water mains are repaired, Joint Task Force-Red Hill said.

"Joint Task Force-Red Hill is adjusting the unpacking schedule to ensure adequate water pressure for maintenance and to be fully equipped for any potential emergency response," said Cmdr. Tiffani Walker, spokesperson for the task force, in an email, adding that the main breaks "impacted systems being used to prepare for unpacking operations at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility."

Many of the 600 or so comments on the virtual town hall, which was hosted on the JBPHH Facebook page, demanded temporary lodging allowances, or TLAs, for residents affected by main breaks, as some said they are without water or aren't comfortable using it.

TLAs weren't discussed during the town hall, which lasted about 20 minutes, although officials said afterward that it's an option that's being looked at.

In response to the boil-water advisory and possible contamination of the water system, the Navy has been distributing bottled water to affected residents since Friday afternoon, allotting 1 gallon of water per person per day.

So far there has been no indication that the main breaks have led to a bacterial contamination in the water, but the advisory directs water users to boil water before consuming it.

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