Updated 4/9/11 at 7:30 a.m.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie told reporters exactly a month ago to hold him accountable for returning hot water to Honolulu’s Mayor Wright public housing complex.

For years, residents have complained that they don’t have hot water or that at best it’s intermittent. Solar panels fail on cloudy days and some of the backup heaters have been broken for a long time.

Last month the governor took the extraordinary step of going to the scene. On the doorstep of a resident’s home, he made a promise: “It’s going to be immediate,” Abercrombie said of how long it would take to restore the hot water. “And it’s going to succeed.”

We went back 30 days later to check whether the governor was true to his word.

The answer is yes.

“It’s been kind of better,” said Tamara Lo, 22. “Neil Abercrombie came here, I think last month or something? He’s been going around and helping… So I guess he’s doing a good job because at night time, we’ve been getting hot water. (Before), at night time, we’ve been showering in cold water and now it’s better.”

Matty Lokot, who declined to give her age, echoed Lo.

“He fixed it,” Lokot said of the governor. “Since Monday, we’ve had (hot water).”

One resident, Lewis Esah, 39, told Civil Beat he hasn’t been as fortunate.

“We don’t have any hot water. Nothing,” Esah said. “Maybe ours, they’re still fixing?”

As it turned out, Esah was right.

On the roof of his building were two contractors working for Mason’s Plumbing Services, which was hired by JJS Construction, Inc. They told Civil Beat they had been working for close to four weeks replacing the backup heaters.

One of the contractors said he has replaced seven heaters to date and plans to complete 22 more. He said the new backup heaters were top of the line and that they should last for years.

“Rain or shine, we’re working on it,” he said. The contractor added that Esah’s building would have its new backup heaters online at some point Friday afternoon.

UPDATE In an e-mail to Civil Beat, Nicholas Birck, a planner with the Hawaii Public Housing Authority, provided some of the more tangible numbers for Mayor Wright’s updates. Birck wrote:

“As of April 8, 2011, 8 buildings have been retrofitted with gas powered tankless water heaters. This project, which was awarded to JJS Construction, Inc, is to retrofit the 29 buildings that had not been upgraded (you’ll recall from our earlier discussions that 6 buildings had previously been retrofitted). The contract award was for $514,800 for the entire project, but we are unable to provide a paid amount thus far since the contractor has not yet submitted an invoice.

As of April 8, 2011, 186 dwelling units of the total 364 at MWH are being served by the gas powered tankless backup as either a primary or secondary source. The remaining 178 units will have gas powered tankless backups installed no later than 120 days from the date of the Notice To Proceed, which was issued March 22, 2011. As was previously discussed, this does not mean those units are without hot water. It means that they are possibly underserved by the existing electrical backup systems in place and could experience depletion of their primary tank system.

Since the start date of the contract on March 22, 2011 to April 8, 2011, 31 gas systems have been installed. The remaining 68 systems must be installed on or before July 19, 2011. In total then, the contractor will have installed 99 systems within the 120 contract term, providing all units with gas powered backup systems.

Within four months of taking office, the governor appropriated money to fix the problem, and then lent the weight of his office to make sure it got finished in a timely manner.

Below are photos taken at Mayor Wright on April 8, 2011:

New Backup Heaters


Old Gas Heater


Workers Fixing Problem


Tools on the Roof of Mayor Wright