Water meter applicants flood in on deadline

More than 100 new applications for the Upcountry water meter list came through in the final days before Monday’s deadline to sign up.

A new Maui law ended the long-standing priority list on Tuesday.

The county’s Department of Water Supply received approximately 100 applications Friday and another 50 on Monday, said department spokeswoman Jacky Takakura.

The final tally of applicants on the list won’t be available until later this year when the department completes an annual update, she said.

The list, established in 1994, included nearly 1,500 applicants as of June 30.

Closing the priority list is part of a package of three bills put forward by the water department to deal with the waiting list.

The water department has said it can satisfy the water needs of those on the list by maximizing the use of surface water in Upcountry while implementing conservation incentives.

By establishing a last day to sign up, the department will now offer water meters to those on the priority list – in order – over an estimated two to three years.

Water Supply Department Director Dave Taylor has said that meeting the needs of all applicants on the waiting list will require an additional 3.5 million gallons a day. But, the department estimates that only half of those on the list have an immediate need for a meter.

Once those on the list are served or deleted, future water meters for new or additional service in Upcountry will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis as capacity becomes available.

A second proposed measure would authorize the director of the Department of Water Supply – with the approval of the mayor – to declare periods of water shortages countywide that would trigger higher water rates to encourage conservation.

While that measure was approved and passed out of the County Council’s Water Resources Committee, the full council last month voted to refer it to this year’s newly seated council chairman.

The third measure would establish tiers of higher rates during declared water shortage periods. That bill has yet to go before the council’s Budget and Finance Committee.