Board of Water Supply approves rate increases

BWS Chairman Randall Chung
BWS Chairman Randall Chung

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Water rates on Oahu will be going up 70% over the next five years. The Board of Water Supply approved the increase on Monday to fund a proactive plan addressing Oahu's aging pipelines, pumps and reservoirs.

"We have 2,100 miles of pipeline. Over 40% of that are over 40 years old. I think we have 317 miles that are close to 100 years old," said Board of Water Supply acting manager Dean Nakano.

Bills will go up 9.65% starting January 1, 2012. The next jump is July 1, then every July through 2015. The proposed water rate will go from $2.79 to $3.06 for every 1,000 gallons of water during the first year of the revised schedule. For an average single-family household, that amounts to $6.99 more a month during the first year.

"I think for the rate that we're proposing, I think that's reasonable. We as consumers don't like to see rate increases, but I think the importance of water as a critical component of our lifestyle is something we need to take care of," said Nakano.

The Board of Water Supply estimates the revised rate schedule will generate $203 million. That will help fund $345 million worth of upgrades.

"That's going to look at 40 miles of pipeline as I mentioned, a number of new reservoirs, a number of booster pump stations need to be replaced so a whole multitude of projects are going to be funded during this five year period," explained Nakano.

No one testified at Monday's hearing, but in August many frustrated customers voiced concerns. Board of Water Supply officials said the rate increase was spread out to minimize the impact.

"I think we all need to get a greater appreciation every morning when we wake up, go to that faucet and turn on that water, what it takes to deliver that water from our sources, through our reservoirs, through our pipelines, to get to you as a homeowner," Nakano said.

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