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.
WAILUKU – Maui County Mayor-elect Alan Arakawa named six new members to his Cabinet on Monday, including two key people to help him achieve his campaign goals, Danny Agsalog as director of the Department of Finance and Dave Taylor as director of the Department of Water Supply.
With the stumbling economy still heavy on most people’s minds, and job creation and finding more water on the lips of political candidates this election season, Arakawa chose people he was familiar with – and who are educated and experienced – to run the county’s finance and water departments, he said.
Arakawa also picked former longtime and award-winning television and print journalist Rod Antone as the county and mayor’s spokesman, replacing Mahina Martin. In addition, Arakawa chose deputy directors for the water and finance departments as well as for county communications.
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.
WAILUKU – Hearing passionate pleas for Upcountry water meters, the Maui County Council Water Resources Committee expressed support for an outright purchase of a privately developed well in Makawao that could cost about $8 million.
Committee Chairman Mike Victorino recommended deferral of the issue with a pledge to push for a county report within the next 45 days on the possible purchase of the groundwater well that could lead to water meters for many Upcountry property owners long on a waiting list.
“Outright purchase is what we prefer,” Victorino said, referring to the negotiation of a water source agreement with Piiholo South LLC. “There’s more work to be done, but I think we’re heading in the right direction.”
The County Council adopted a resolution Aug. 6, urging the county administration to acquire a well that, according to developers Zachary Franks and Cynthia Warner, has been tested to produce 1.7 million gallons per day of water pure enough to drink without further treatment.
WAILUKU – Maui County will be offered a chance Tuesday to buy a water well in Makawao that could make deep inroads into the Upcountry meter waiting list.
The well, known as Piiholo South, already exists, and it has been tested to produce 1.7 million gallons per day of water pure enough to drink without further treatment, according to Zachary Franks and Cynthia Warner, the developers.
But to finance the proposed $8 million price (including infrastructure), the county would likely have to find funds outside the Department of Water Supply. In the past, water source development has been paid for with department funds, not county general funds, supplemented by grants and borrowing through bond sales.
Only recently has the county budget supplemented the finances of the water department, with $1 million for a study of storage in the current budget. But until now, the department has had to pay for its own wells and reservoirs, unless it could get the state to cover the bill, as it did with the Kahakapao reservoirs.
The County Council Water Resources Committee will take up the issue during a meeting beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Council Chambers. Panel Chairman Mike Victorino said discussion of the matter would be preliminary.
“The focus of the committee meeting will be simply to gather information,” he said. “But there is possible public use of this privately owned well, and I’m eager to explore this potential.”