WAILUKU – The decision on whether Upcountry residents get more county water meters ultimately lies with the county’s fiscal policymakers, acting Department of Water Supply Director Dave Taylor said Wednesday.
“Not to kick the can to you guys, but it’s really a fiscal policy question,” Taylor said during his confirmation hearing before the Maui County Council’s Policy Committee. “Only the council can decide how much this is worth to pursue. We really can’t make that decision for the council.”
Following the recommendation of committee Chairman Riki Hokama, the panel voted 9-0 to recommend adoption of a resolution approving Mayor Alan Arakawa’s appointment of Taylor to head the county’s water department.
On Wednesday, the committee also unanimously recommended approval of John D. Kim as the county’s chief prosecuting attorney. Council members noted that Kim had received universal support during his Jan. 25 confirmation hearing.
Acting Corporation Counsel Pat Wong also had his nomination heard last month, but action on his appointment was deferred then and on Wednesday.
The Policy Committee grilled Taylor on numerous operational and policy questions, including the county’s Upcountry water meter list. That list has more than 2,000 people waiting for water meters, some for at least a decade.
KULA – Mayor-elect Alan Arakawa said Wednesday that the county had “more than adequate water supply” and that he hoped to begin issuing water meters to people on the Upcountry meter list within a few months of taking office.
Arakawa also said he planned to address what he thought were inequities in county regulations that required landowners applying for water meters to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on infrastructure or risk losing their place in line.
The incoming mayor was speaking at a meeting of the Kula Community Association, where he had been asked to speak on water concerns.
“Our administration intends to deal with the water issue head-on,” Arakawa said.
He said there was no question that enough water was available to meet Upcountry’s demands; the only question was how costly it would be and how long it would take to distribute it to the community.
He noted that the county’s Kamole Weir Water Treatment Facility, which was upgraded during his previous administration, now has a sustainable capacity of 6 million to 7 million gallons per day and is capable of treating up to 10 million gallons per day over short periods.
“We could cover all the Upcountry water meter requirements if we wanted to,” he said.
by John Burnett
Temporary well may bring turbid water
If county water users in the Honokaa area notice a difference in their tap water — such as murkiness or chlorine odor or taste — it’s because the pump at the Haina well has broken down and an alternative well had to be tapped.
“As of this morning it failed fully, so we have zero output,” Keith Okamoto, the county’s Water Quality Assurance Branch chief, said Thursday afternoon. “… More than likely it’s something to do with the motor.”
It’s not the first pump breakdown at the Haina well, the only county well serving Honokaa, Ahualoa, Kalopa, Pohakea, upper Paauilo and Kukuihaele. Hamakua residents were placed on a 25-percent water restriction in August 2007 following a pump failure.
At that time, the county had to truck in water from Paauilo. Okamoto said the county has been doing the same thing since early this week, when it became apparent that the Haina pump was failing again.
“Every several years we do have some problems with that well,” Okamoto said. He said that Honokaa water users shouldn’t have noticed any difference in water quality or pressure as of Thursday afternoon.