By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau
HILO, Hawaii Mayor Harry Kim yesterday told Hawaii Countys Water Board he wants to shift priorities so that 24,000 Big Island residents without running water can have some form of a permanent, dependable supply.
Kim said he also wants to protect farmers from high water charges to ensure "an island lifestyle."
Before Kims presentation, the board voted to defer action yesterday on pending water rate increases for all consumers. A vote could come Jan. 23.
Kim met with the board to outline his concerns and how he intends to fulfill his campaign pledges. He said he became acutely aware of water needs for Puna, Kona and south Kona during his 24 years as Civil Defense administrator.
Kim said emergency water spigots he helped establish in the 1980s under a mayoral emergency proclamation need replacing. "The present system is no good," he told the board members.
Spigots now are operated from roadside stations along county or state highways and paid for by the county Civil Defense Agency at a cost of about $20,000 a year.
Kim is proposing new spigot sites that would be paid for by the county. He wants the new sites away from the highways for safety and sanitation reasons. The land for the sites would be acquired by land condemnation actions. Kim said he envisions fewer spigots but safer and more sanitary ones.
As for farmers, Kim said more agricultural reservoirs must be built and a system developed to provide cheaper water.
Kim also said that Gov. Ben Cayetano has agreed to reopen discussions in an effort to break a deadlock over a proposed state exploratory well for Hawaiian Ocean View Estates.
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