Water shortages declaration on hold

WAILUKU — The Maui County Council on Friday voted unanimously to send a bill that would give the water director and mayor the authority to declare “water shortages” and to impose increased rates during the shortage back to committee for more review.

Council Member and Water Resources Committee Chairman Mike Victorino made the motion during the meeting of the full council. Although the committee has had a “great deal of discussion” on the matter, he said he still has been receiving many calls from constituents about the vagueness of the bill, the broad discretionary authority it gives the water director and other issues.

The bill had passed first reading by the full council on Feb. 15 and was set for second and final reading Friday.

The bill would give the director of the Department of Water Supply with the approval of the mayor the authority to declare “water shortages.” The authority would not only cover drought conditions but mechanical failure, human error and natural disasters.

It also would allow the county to charge higher rates during the water shortage period. The rate structure, meant to encourage conservation, has yet to be set by the council, which will consider them in its upcoming budget deliberations.

Victorino said after the meeting that the bill will be taken up in his committee on March 13.

For more on this story, see Saturday’s Maui News.