Published in The Maui News, June 12, 2016
By GLADYS BAISA, for The Maui News
The Maui County water availability policy was enacted via Ordinance 3502 (2007) to require verification of “a long-term, reliable source of water before subdivisions are approved.”
Developers and community advocates contend the policy, often called the “show me the water” ordinance, has suppressed the construction of housing. The council’s Water Resources Committee received overwhelming testimony to reject the call for its repeal earlier this term and is now focused on revising the water availability policy to allow for desired forms of development while protecting the water supply.
On Wednesday at 9 a.m. in the Council Chamber, the committee will consider a bill submitted by the Department of Water Supply last month at my request as chair of the committee.
No legislative action will be taken on Wednesday, but the public is encouraged to testify.
The bill would amend the water availability policy, at Chapter 14.12 of the Maui County Code, by establishing revised standards for the allocation of “potable water usage for new users.”
Under the bill, the county would continue to impose development and water-use restrictions in areas where water usage is projected to reach 95 percent or more of maximum reliable capacity. In other areas, however, the water availability policy would no longer provide restrictions.
In any water system where the estimated 10-year forecast for water usage is within 98 percent to 100 percent of the department’s maximum reliable capacity, subdivisions would be limited to three lots, while individual building permits would be limited to 2,000 gallons per day. For a water system where the estimated 10 year forecast for water usage is within 95 percent to 98 percent of the maximum reliable capacity, subdivisions would be limited to 10 lots and individual building permits limited to 50,000 gallons per day.
The bill would apply to the Central Maui, West Maui, East Maui and Molokai water systems, but not to the Upcountry Maui system, which is governed by Chapter 14.13. The bill says that “population projections will be based on the General Plan,” and “water system capacity will be based on an analysis provided by the department.”
While easing or eliminating development limits, the bill would also expand the scope of Chapter 14.12 to include “requests for new or additional water service,” in addition to subdivisions. The purpose clause recognizes “there is limited infrastructure for potable water capacity.”
For years, the county has tried to find the right balance between the need to preserve water resources and the need to construct homes. Is this bill the long-sought solution?
A hui hou.
* Gladys C. Baisa holds the council seat for the Upcountry Maui residency area. She is the chairwoman of the Water Resources Committee. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Visit mauicounty.us for more information.