Navy Developing Follow-Up Water Monitoring Plan After Red Hill Incident

by Braxton Taylor

The Navy is working with the state Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency to develop an Extended Drinking Water Monitoring Plan, the Navy announced in a news release Wednesday.

The creation of the plan comes after the Navy gathered a team of “drinking water experts ” two weeks ago to investigate the origin of low-level detections of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH ) in the Joint Base-Pearl Harbor Hickam water system, following an influx of tap water and air quality complaints from residents. The Navy also said it would extend operations of the Red Hill Medical Clinic, which were scheduled to end March 24, in response to the complaints.

The Navy activated a “Swarm Team “—composed of members of several Navy Commands, DOH, the EPA and more—to “reinforce the Navy’s commitment ” to finding the cause of the TPH detections, create plans to address the detections and develop a “follow-on, voluntary drinking water monitoring plan.” This Extended Drinking Water Monitoring Plan will be informed by recommendations from the Navy’s previous two-year Long-Term Monitoring plan, which ends in late March.

“We hear and understand the community’s concerns, and I want the community to know that the Navy will voluntarily continue to monitor the drinking water system after the LTM program ends next month, ” Rear Adm. Steve Barnett, commander of Navy Region Hawaii, said in the news release. “The health of our military members, families and neighbors served by the JBPHH drinking water system is paramount and we are doing this to continue to go above and beyond to ensure their safety and well-being.”

The Navy said it, along with DOH, will collect additional water samples from homes and the Waiawa shaft this week.

According to the news release, water in the Navy’s water system “continues to meet federal and state safe water drinking standards, ” as it has throughout the Navy’s two-year Long-Term Monitoring plan. The Navy has completed almost 8, 100 water quality tests since March 2022.

The Navy also assembled a team of medical experts from the Defense Health Agency, the Navy and Marine Corps Force Health Protection Command and DOH in response to the influx of medical complaints reported among community members. Navy Medicine representatives are “closely monitoring ongoing reported medical symptoms, ” the release said. Those with health concerns are encouraged to contact their primary care provider.

Residents can call the JBPHH Emergency Operations Center at 808-449-1979 to schedule a water quality test.

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