Ask the Mayor

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Q: Upcountry residents are under water restrictions again this summer, and I am wondering where all of the millions of gallons of fresh water per day that Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. used to use is going. Why can’t the county purchase any of that water for Upcountry use?

A: The reality is that we can’t just “buy” more water. It doesn’t work that way, because while there may be fewer millions of gallons of water being used, that doesn’t automatically translate to more water being available. In a nutshell, the county pays for delivery of water from people who have access to it to those who need it. The water that supported HC&S’ sugar cane cultivation in Central Maui came primarily from East Maui streams via a ditch system. This same ditch system is a primary source of water for Upcountry Department of Water Supply customers. Water is a public trust resource administered by the state, and appurtenant users who either own or lease land directly abutting the water source have access to the water, but that access is currently regulated via an Interim In-Stream Flow Standard. Although A&B, HC&S’ parent company, may be using less water, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all that water is available for other uses due to a case being considered by the State Commission on Water Resources Management adjusting intakes until the stream-flow standards process is completed. Once this case is decided, which is expected later this year, we will know how much of this water is available for off-stream uses, including county water department customers. Upcountry residents who are concerned about future availability of water can voice their concerns when the water commission holds a future hearing to decide this issue.

 Q: I was interested in finding the map of hotel-designated condos in the Wailea area of Maui. Can you direct me to the link? Thank you.

A: Since you didn’t specify why this information would be useful for you, it’s a little difficult to know how best to help you. I can tell you that in Wailea many of the condos are actually zoned “apartment,” not hotel. Originally, apartment zoning was grandfathered to allow hotel use. In the past few years, our Planning Department has changed apartment zoning to include hotel uses, thus much of the hotel use in Kihei is in the apartment zoning district. If you need a physical map, you can contact our Real Property Assessment office for more information. However, there is not a separate webpage or map that outlines the properties as you were hoping. For general and contact information, visit and click on the left tab for “Real Property Assessment Division.”

 Q: I have heard from different people that all the recycling collected from the various recycling centers goes directly to the dump. This is disheartening if it is true. What a waste of time and energy. Please say it ain’t so!

A: That statement is not true. The majority of the materials collected at the county’s recycling centers are recycled. The county does not control the material that comes into our facilities, however, which means that about 12 percent of the materials that are received are contaminated. These contaminated materials cannot be recycled and are discovered at the contractor’s facility when workers are going through the collected material.

* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Alan Arakawa by email at, by phone at 270-7855 or by mail at 200 S. High St., ninth floor, Wailuku 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column; to request a personal response to a concern, email