Board of Water Supply seeks public feedback on proposed rate increases

Local News

The Board of Water Supply (BWS) is looking to raise its water rates.

Officials say the change is necessary to increase investments in Oahu’s water infrastructure, reduce water main breaks, encourage conservation, provide sufficient funding for disaster recovery, and more equitably distribute rates and charges among types of customers.

Rate changes would vary by customer type. Click here for a breakdown.

The billing charge currently assessed to all customers at a flat rate is proposed to become a monthly customer charge that varies by meter size, to more fairly distribute costs so that customers with larger meters pay more.

Single-family residential customers (standalone households and duplexes) will see the largest increase. As a group, these customers currently pay only 88 percent of the costs to serve them, leaving 12 percent to be subsidized by other rate-payer classes.

Multi-unit residential customers (triplexes up to high-rise complexes) will see smaller increases as rates are adjusted over time to eliminate their subsidy to single-family customers.

“I don’t like it, but I understand it,” said Kailua resident Peter Cross. “But again, I prefer any rate hikes be applied even-handedly to single-family homes, commercial condos, resorts, etc.”

Customers with private fire protection systems will no longer pay for incidental water use, but instead will pay a nominal monthly fire meter standby charge.

A new affordability water-use tier will be added to cover “Essential Needs” for basic water uses such as drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene. The tiers are being adjusted to encourage conservation.

The proposed changes are based on four years of studies, intensive analysis, and public input, including BWS’s preparation of a Water Master Plan, a 30-year Infrastructure Investment Plan, and a Long Range Financial Plan. The rate proposal reflects input from a community advisory group with representation throughout Oahu, meetings with diverse island interests, as well as multiple customer surveys and focus groups. 

Prior to adopting the proposed rates, BWS is reaching out again for broad public ideas and input. “

We’ve been working on the planning and technical evaluations to revamp the BWS rate structure for a long time,” noted BWS Manager and Chief Engineer Ernest Lau. “We think we’ve done a very thoughtful and thorough job.  All of our revenue comes from our customers, so we want to hear from them whether we’ve got this right.”

“We’ve heard loud and clear that reducing main breaks is important,” said BWS Board Chair Bryan Andaya. “While it won’t happen overnight, the revised rates and associated plans will put us solidly on that path.  At the same time, we’re taking this opportunity to give customers greater control of their water bills and be rewarded for their commitment to conservation.”

BWS is holding four public hearings on the proposed water rate changes, in addition to reaching out through the neighborhood board system, the community advisory group, and community and civic organizations. The locations and dates of public hearings, all of which are scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., are:

  • Honolulu: Thursday, April 26, Mission Memorial Auditorium, 550 South King Street
  • Kapolei: Monday, May 14, Kapolei Hale, Ground Floor Conference Room, 1000 Uluohia Street
  • Kaneohe: Tuesday, May 15, Benjamin Parker Elementary School Cafeteria, 45-259 Waikalua Road
  • Mililani: Thursday, May 24, Mililani Recreation Center #5, 95-1101 Ainamakua Drive

The public is also encouraged to go to the BWS website at http://www.boardofwatersupply.com
for more details and to share their ideas.

They can call the BWS at (808) 748-5041, email ContactUs@hbws.org, or send a message on Twitter at @BWSHonolulu or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BWSHonolulu.

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