Maui is negotiating for
new water sources

The mayor hopes to reach a deal
with C. Brewer for water

WAILUKU >> Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa said his administration is negotiating an agreement to use millions of gallons of water daily from C. Brewer's system in the West Maui Mountains.

Finding new sources of water is crucial to economic expansion and development in Central and South Maui because the number of new taps could be restricted due to underground sources reaching their withdrawal limit.

Arakawa, serving his second year in a four-year term, made the comments during his annual State of the County address yesterday in the Council Chambers before a crowd of more than 90 people.

Arakawa's water strategy is a departure from that of his predecessor, former Maui Mayor James "Kimo" Apana.

Apana, fearing that C. Brewer would sell off portions of its lands, wanted the county and several private landowners to buy about 13,000 acres of West Maui watershed land that included the water irrigation system.

Arakawa said his administration hoped to negotiate an agreement with C. Brewer similar to the contract with East Maui Irrigation, a company that delivers water to the Upcountry region.

Under a 1973 agreement, the county pays 6 cents per 1,000 gallons of untreated water for the delivery of the East Maui Irrigation water, then converts it into drinking water at a treatment plant.

Arakawa said surface water from Iao and Waihee streams on C. Brewer property, "formerly dedicated to plantation agriculture," conservatively yields 50 million gallons a day.

He said the county could consume half of the average daily flow, or about 25 million gallons a day, for the central and southern portions of the Valley Isle and even parts of Upcountry Maui.

Arakawa said he hopes to have an agreement completed within a year.

Avery Chumbley, executive vice president of C. Brewer, said the company has been discussing delivering water to the county but has been "far apart" on some issues.

Chumbley said the water diverted from the streams is still used for agricultural purposes.

Arakawa said the county has to come to grips with how to provide housing for "ordinary nonmillionaire residents."

He estimated the county needed 4,000 affordable-housing units and that 90 percent of the homes sold in Maui County were being purchased by wealthy nonresidents.

"So, however much we've attempted to catch up with the demand for housing, we have not been able to satisfy the needs of our local community," he said.

Arakawa said he wants to make sure that housing units in county-sponsored projects remain affordable upon resale.

In the past, the county has turned down exercising an option to buy back a house built in a county-sponsored project because the price of the home had risen too high to be in the affordable range.

Councilwoman Charmaine Tavares said the county had a 7 percent annual ceiling on the equity a home buyer could have for a county-sponsored home.

But she said at one county project, homeowners were raising the value of their equity by making home improvements.

Arakawa said he did not have any proposal for keeping county housing units affordable forever, but expected that a solution would arise in talks with the County Council.


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