On November 28th, AFHA received its first complaint of possible water contamination aboard the JBPHH housing.

On December 1, the Hawaii Department of Health confirmed the presence of petroleum products in the water supply from the Navy's water system.

AFHA has received more than 700 requests for advocates regarding the water contamination issue since November 28th.

The Navy is reporting more than 1400 families are currently displaced.

Image by Anastasia Taioglou

Some household items that have come in contact with contaminated water should be immediately removed from use.


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The problem has had an adverse effect on military duties as service members training on Hawaii’s other islands have returned home to help sickened family members, Needham said, noting that some troops told her they were concerned about retaliation if their spouses spoke out.

On Monday, Armed Forces Housing Advocates, a group that services military families, sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting he declare a state of emergency in Hawaii. The group has reported receiving nearly 500 complaints from families having water that smelled like fuel.

"As an organization, we've had approximately 700 cases come in," Needham, who flew to Hawaii Monday to talk with military families in person, said. "We have been going house to house. Families have told us (about) the vomiting, the diarrhea, the rashes, the sick animals."

Armed Forces Housing Advocates, a group that services military families, reported receiving 456 complaints from area households reporting water that smelled like fuel. The organization bought $1,200 worth of water to hand out and ran out almost immediately, according to operations director Kate Needham.

The descriptions of the smell and photos of water and of residents’ rashes were so alarming, said Sarah Lenox, the group’s environmental hazards advocate, that it posted a warning Monday on social media pages urging families to "proceed with caution" and seek medical help if they felt sick.

“It’s very heartening to see that the community is really coming together and that the Army is really making a big push to make sure that these families are finally being cared for like they should be,” said Kate Needham, of Armed Forces Housing Advocates.

“If this is going to be potentially 1- more days or longer, then the Navy needs to step up yesterday on providing families with the fresh water they need.”