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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 31, 2003

Maui moves to stem water use

By Christie Wilson
Neighbor Island Editor

WAILUKU, Maui — Because of concerns about overpumping of the 'Iao Aquifer, Maui County no longer is taking water meter reservations for projects in Central and South Maui.

The action primarily affects developers with projects a couple years down the road, according to Department of Water Supply Director George Tengan. Landowners who are ready to receive water service still may apply for water meters.

The county stopped accepting water meter reservations July 21, the same day the state Commission on Water Resource Management took control of the '?ao Aquifer by designating it a groundwater management area. The aquifer provides water to Maui's most populated areas, from Pa'ia to Kahului, Wailuku, Ma'alaea, Kihei, Wailea and Makena.

The designation occurred when the 12-month moving average for withdrawals from the aquifer exceeded 18 million gallons per day last month — or 90 percent of its sustainable yield. The moving average is calculated using pumping data from the preceding 12 months.

The designation means owners of wells that tap into the aquifer, including Maui County, will have one year to apply for a water use permit from the state water commission.

Water meter reservations are good for up to three years, at which point the developer must be ready to receive water service.

Tengan said the county will not begin accepting reservations again unless the water situation stabilizes and conservation efforts are successful, and that likely won't happen for a number of months, if at all.

County officials will discuss the hold on new meter reservations at a Board of Water Supply meeting next week. The board operates in an advisory capacity, and Tengan said the administration would like to get members' comments on whether the action is an appropriate response to increasing demand on the aquifer and if other measures should be considered.