HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The cost of living may rise even further, as the Honolulu Board of Water Supply considers rate hikes over a five-year period for Oahu customers. During the first year of the proposed increase, the average single-family household would see an additional $6.99 in its monthly water bills.
The BWS says its water rates are the lowest in the state and among the lower fourth in the country.
A crew repairing a ruptured pipe is becoming an all-too familiar scene. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply says it has experienced a 40% jump in the number of water main breaks over the last three years.
Water officials say they need to raise rates to fund the operation, maintenance and replacement of Oahu's aging water infrastructure.
"Right now, we're trying to fund the rate increases and the improvements we need to do now, rather than put them off until later and it's going to cost even more money down the road," Kurt Tsue, BWS spokesperson, said.
"In addition to the 2,100 miles of pipeline, I can also tell you that we have roughly, I believe, 21,000 hydrants, 38,000 valves, we have 12 GAC facilities, all of which need to be repaired, renovated and maintained," Dean Nakano, BWS acting manager, said.
So they're seeking to boost water rates over a five-year period, beginning on January 1, 2012. The proposal calls for a 9.65% increase each year -- from $2.79 to $3.06 for every 1,000 gallons of water.
"I think any rate increase that we're facing is going to affect all of us," Nakano said. "We're all consumers. We come on the heels of many rate increases that have faced the general public. But this is something that we need to do."
If approved, the board expects the rate increases to generate $203 million over the five-year period, all of which will go to the Capital Improvements Program.
"Every day, at least for myself, when I get up and I open that faucet, I'm quite appreciative of the level of service that we provide to our customers in terms of having that water at our fingertips," Nakano said.
The board says it wants to hear from its residential and business customers. It will hold a public hearing on the proposed rate schedule on Monday, August 22, at 2:00 PM at the BWS board room on South Beretania Street.
Officials will also attend neighborhood board meetings over the next month to talk about the proposal.