By Lorna Heller
Water conservation has always been top of mind for businesses and government agencies to reduce their operating costs and to be better stewards of the environment. For those on O‘ahu, water conservation has become imperative as a result of the Red Hill water contamination crisis. In April 2022, the Board of Water Supply (BWS) issued a “water alert” that is still in effect, urging O‘ahu residents and businesses to reduce their fresh water use by 10 percent.
Installing low-flow faucets and toilets and being more prudent about water use are key to reducing water use. Recycling wastewater, which undergoes additional purification processes, is also important to the water conservation equation. Since August 2000, the Honouliuli Water Recycling Facility in ‘Ewa, owned by BWS, has played a key role in water conservation, especially since recycled water is available year-round, even during droughts.
The Honouliuli Water Recycling Facility is similar to BWS. They both deliver water to customers, but the water that Honouliuli delivers is recycled water produced from treated wastewater. Recycled water is delivered to users through a system of pipes separate from the drinking water distribution system.
Even though recycled water is not used for drinking, it must meet stringent health and safety standards set by the Department of Health before being delivered to customers throughout Kapolei, Ewa, and other areas of West Oahu. The recycled water must be deemed to be suitable for industrial processing, irrigation, and other non-drinking uses. Recycled water is commonly used for cooling towers, irrigation for golf courses, landscaping, and ornamental ponds.
Each day, the Honouliuli Water Recycling Facility produces 14 million gallons of water.
There are two grades of recycled water: R-1 is used for irrigation and landscaping, and Reverse Osmosis water (RO) is used for industrial purposes at refineries and power plants. In the reverse osmosis process, treated wastewater
is forced through an ultra-fine membrane, which allows only water to pass through.
R-1 water is delivered to eight different golf courses: Barbers Point Golf Course, Coral Creek Golf Course, Ewa Beach Golf Course, Ewa Villages Golf Course, Hawaii Prince Golf Club, Kapolei Golf Club, Hoakalei Golf Course, and West Loch Golf Course. RO water is delivered to organizations in Campbell Industrial Park, including the synthetic natural gas (SNG) plant of Hawaii Gas, H-Power, the Kalaeloa Partners’ cogeneration plant, and Par Hawaii’s refinery, and extends to Hawaiian Electric’s Kahe Power Plant, also in Kapolei. The Honouliuli Water Recycling Facility delivers R-1 recycled water to users in the City of Kapolei daily from 10 pm to 9 am.
BWS would like to serve more customers with recycled water. On the drawing board are plans to extend pipellnes to Kapolei Business Park to Kalaeloa Boulevard, near Costco. This will further help to reduce fresh water use.
On October 20, 2022, BWS will commemorate “Imagine a Day Without Water” with educational outreach activities in collaboration with other state and county government agencies to explore the topic of recycled water. BWS will explore recycled water from wastewater, stormwater and rainwater.
On December 7, 2022, the Hawaii Water Environment Association and American Water Works Association Hawaii Section will also resume its biennial Water Reuse Conference as an in-person event. Watch for details.
Lorna Heller has been a civil engineer in the Water Resources Division of the Board of Water Supply since 1993. She serves as the liaison between BWS’s Honouliuli Water Recycling Facility and its customers.