In contentious race for Maui mayor, water is a key issue — with few solutions

Some say the exceptional drought conditions Maui often faces is more of a water management issue.
Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 6:29 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 1, 2022 at 11:06 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The general election is one week away and the candidates for Maui County mayor are vowing to improve the island’s water system.

Specifically in Upcountry, residents rely primarily on surface water. So the less it rains, the less water they have — and they are often asked to conserve water.

In a recent debate, incumbent Mayor Michael Victorino suggested connecting Maui’s patchwork of water pipes to provide a more consistent source.

“We have 2-inch pipes go into 4-inch pipes going to 6-inch pipes down to 2-inch pipes and it’s been a real hodgepodge,” Victorino said in the October debate.

“Get consistently in one system and be interconnected with town.”

His challenger, retired Judge Richard Bissen, said his opponent has had sufficient time to address these issues during his four years as mayor and 10 years as a councilman.

“I think they’ve had 14 years to think about different systems that we could improve. These are not new problems, these are ongoing problems. If that’s something that could have been done, then perhaps they would have done it sooner,” Bissen said.

Bissen said the water exists for Upcountry residents, all it takes is political will and funding.

“We know that when developers have built subdivisions, they have figured out ways to find water for those subdivisions. We should consider those same things,” said Bissen.

Bissen suggested that residents should be allowed to have water catchments while they wait – sometimes decades – for a water meter.

This past summer, Kauai and Maui secured $50 million in federal funding for infrastructure upgrades.

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