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At Mayor Wright, 'every minute we have hot water'

At Mayor Wright, ’every minute we have hot water’

New heating systems at the homes end years of cold baths and unreliable flow

By Rosemarie Bernardo

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jun 18, 2011

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Hot water for residents now runs through the pipes at Mayor Wright Homes.

Contractors completed installation Wednesday of 99 new tankless heating backup systems at 29 buildings at Mayor Wright in Kalihi, the state’s second-largest public housing facility. Contractors are doing insulation work on the systems’ pipes, with that work expected to be completed by mid-July.

Twenty-eight systems were installed previously at seven buildings. The public housing complex is made up of 35 buildings.

Pat McManaman, director of the state Department of Human Services, said inspectors from the Hawaii Public Housing Authority will test the hot water in each unit starting next week.

Each tankless heater unit uses natural gas and is 2 feet long and 14 inches wide. The energy-efficient units placed on the roof of each building fire up when a tenant turns on a faucet, quickly providing hot water.

BY THE NUMBERS

» $514,800: Awarded to JJS Construction to install 99 hot-water backup systems at 29 buildings. Work started March 22. Twenty-eight systems were installed earlier at seven buildings at the public housing complex. There are 35 buildings at Mayor Wright Homes.

» $5.6 million: Capital improvement funding was appropriated for fiscal year 2012 for an overhaul of the water-heating system.

 

The new units were necessary after the old backup system failed to provide enough hot water for tenants.

The project is the first step toward a permanent solution for a new water heater system at the complex, according to Gov. Neil Abercrombie in a news release. "The completion of this project is a temporary solution to a longstanding and unacceptable problem," he said.

In March, Abercrombie visited Mayor Wright, promising tenants he would fix the problem. A month earlier a group of residents conducted a door-to-door protest at the state Capitol to tell lawmakers about the difficulties of living without hot water.

Lawmakers appropriated $5.6 million in capital improvements funds for fiscal year 2012 for an overhaul of the entire solar water-heating system.

"It’s a priority for the department as well as the Hawaii Public Housing Authority," said McManaman.

For several years a number of residents had complained about the lack of hot water that forced them to boil water to wash dishes or to take a bath. Hot water would be available only when it was sunny, primarily in the middle of the day between 1 and 3 p.m.

Now, "every minute we have hot water," said resident Nina Phaynid who has lived at Mayor Wright for six years.

State Rep. Karl Rhoads, who represents Palama, Downtown Honolulu, Chinatown and Sheridan, said, "The people that I’ve talked to, for the first time in years, they have hot water all day long, and they are grateful."

Fetu Kolio, president of the Mayor Wright Housing Tenants Association, said, "I’m thankful that there’s some progress. As far as I know, they really appreciate a nice, hot shower after coming home from a hard’s day work."

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