Board of Water Supply approves new water rates

Local News

The Board of Water Supply’s (BWS) Board of Directors at their Monday, August 27, 2018, meeting approved water rate increases for the next 5 years as well as several significant changes to their rate structure. The water rate schedule will run from September 10, 2018 through June 30, 2023.
 
“We are grateful for the Board’s support,” stated Manager and Chief Engineer, Ernest Lau. “The new rates will allow us to continue the important program to increase our investments in repairing and replacing our water system infrastructure, including ramping up our pipeline replacement program over the next ten years to 21 miles per year.” 
 
Board Chair Bryan Andaya stated, “We have adopted a rate structure to aggressively ramp up our infrastructure improvement program to reduce main breaks while ensuring affordable water rates for our customers. The rate structure also supports initiatives important to our community, including water conservation, the development of affordable and homeless housing units, improved fire safety in high rise residential buildings, and continuing our support of agriculture. We are proud to set a new direction for the agency that ensures sound investments in the future of our water system.”
 
Changes include:
Gradual increases to the water rates will start July 1, 2019. The gradual increases will help customers avoid sticker shock and be easier to absorb and budget for over the next 5 years. In addition, each customer class will be moved closer to the cost that BWS incurs to serve them water. Currently single-family residents pay less than 90% of their cost of service while multi-unit and non-residential customers pay more. This addresses an issue of each customer class paying more of their fair share; a comment that came up frequently during the public hearings and comments received by BWS.

The monthly billing charge will move to a monthly customer charge based on meter size. Most single-family residences have 3/4″ or 5/8″ sized-meters and will not see a significant increase from the current $9.26 billing charge that they pay. This change better reflects the true costs associated with large meters.

BWS is adding an Essential Needs Tier that all residentials customers will be given for the first 2,000 gallons of water used, to promote affordability. 10% of all BWS residential customers use less than 2,000 gallons per month. In addition, this will assist those on fixed and/or low incomes; another concern that came up during the public hearings and in comments received.

Subsidies will be provided to encourage development of affordable and homeless housing and support retrofit of automatic sprinkler systems for high-rise multi-unit buildings. This supports the city’s initiatives for these projects.

The agriculture water rate subsidy will be continued to support small farmers.

The BWS held five public hearings as well as presented proposed rate information to 15 Neighborhood Boards and other interest groups. Mr. Lau stated, “It was very important to the BWS to ensure wide-spread dissemination of the proposed increases and structure changes. We continue to welcome and respond to all questions and comments from the community.”
 
Information regarding the new water rates and tier structure can be found on the BWS website at: boardofwatersupply.com. Please email comments to kelliott-pahinui@hbws.org.
 
For more information about the BWS, visit www.boardofwatersupply.com, follow @BWSHonolulu or like the BWS’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/BWSHonolulu.

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