Friday, January 12, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 12, 2001

Kaua'i's water bills may rise for repairs

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

LIHUE, Kauai — The Board of Water Supply is proposing a dramatic increase in county water rates, to rebuild an islandwide water system in serious disrepair.

"We have 46 miles of water line built between 1921 and 1942," said Water Department manager Ernest Lau. As he spoke he pulled a section of 4-inch-diameter cast iron pipe that had rusted through.

The 13 separate community water systems islandwide have varying needs for supply and storage, he said.

To pay for improvements, the department is proposing rate increases that will raise revenue from about $10 million this year to $13 million next year, and to add $4 million in revenue starting July 1, 2003.

At a Kauai County Council briefing yesterday, Lihue resident Charles Trembath said the new rate plan suggests to him that longtime residents are paying for the cost of developing new source and storage, which should be paid for by new customers entering the system.

"Once again we see the ugly face of growth and development not paying its way," he said.

The Water Board has set a public hearing on the new rates at 9 a.m. Jan. 24 at its board room on Pua Loke Street in Lihue.

For an average residential user, using about 10,000 gallons a month, the monthly water bill would go from $23.80 now, to $30 July 1, and to $39.60 July 1, 2003.

Water bills on Kauai are sent out every two months, so actual bimonthly bills would represent figures twice those levels.

The last time water rates went up was in 1997.

Agricultural users, who now pay $1.78 per 1,000 gallons for the first 25,000 gallons and $.60 thereafter, would also see an increase. Their rates would go to $2.10 and $1.05 July 1, 2001, and to $2.76 and $1.38 on July 1, 2003.

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