WAILUKU – Council Member Riki Hokama reopened the issue of moving the Central Maui sewage treatment plant inland at a meeting of the Water Resources Committee on Tuesday.
It was a surprise from the fiscally conservative Hokama. While he was off the council because of term limits, the County Council debated the wisdom of moving the Wailuku-Kahului plant (which is in a tsunami zone near the airport), but it shied away from the price tag of $300 million to $400 million.
But as long as members of the new council were throwing out surprising ideas, Council Member Joe Pontanilla mused that perhaps the county should “have an ordinance about how much greenery to put in” in landscaped dry areas.
He didn’t pursue that, but it showed that the council is concerned about diminishing water supplies.
The item under discussion was a report from the Department of Environmental Management about ways to increase the use of treated sewage effluent from the Wailuku-Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility.
All the public testimony was in favor of making more use of reclaimed water. Even if it means higher rates and fees, said Irene Bowie, executive director of the Maui Tomorrow Foundation.
It would. Department of Environmental Management Director Kyle Ginoza said he had anticipated such a question, and the cheapest alternative would mean about a $5-per-month increase in water rates if spread out over the whole county.