Published in The Maui News, March 1, 2015
By GLADYS C. BAISA, for The Maui News
The County Council set aside $12.6 million in the fiscal year 2015 budget for improvements to the county’s water system. The appropriation includes $10 million in bond funding and $2.6 million in unrestricted cash.
As chair of the Water Resources Committee, I’m working closely with the Department of Water Supply to develop policies ensuring the funding is used for infrastructure to provide maximum public benefit. Upcountry residents who have been waiting years for county water service are of particular concern. In addition, ensuring reliable water supply for affordable housing is a priority.
The item before the committee is designated as WR-12, “Optimizing the Investment of Countywide Mainline and Water Infrastructure Improvements.” My goal is to directly help consumers mitigate the costs of water upgrades, including through rebates for costs relating to infrastructure improvements.
The committee began discussions on how to best utilize the funding on Feb. 4. At that meeting, I distributed a memo raising some of the pertinent issues, including the following:
- To promote the development of affordable housing, should the funds be administered by the Department of Water Supply or the Department of Housing and Human Concerns?
- Should a grant or loan program be established?
- Should the funding be limited to support family subdivisions?
- Should the funding be limited to consumers in the Upcountry area or for the entire county, including commercial consumers?
- Should there be a cap on the refund amount provided to each consumer?
The committee also considered changing fire flow codes in rural districts, which may alleviate some water-development costs. But we need the fire department to weigh in on this.
I invite the community to submit ideas at the committee meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Council Chambers. If you can’t testify in person, please email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, referencing WR-12.
This is a significant undertaking. Continued public input will be necessary for success.
A hui hou.
* Gladys Baisa holds the council seat for the Upcountry residency area. She is the chair 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.