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For Immediate Release
March 28, 2018

Board of Water Supply Seeks Community Input for Proposed Changes to Water Rates

HONOLULU – The Board of Water Supply (BWS) is seeking public input regarding proposed changes to its water rates, as presented to its Board of Directors yesterday. The changes are driven by the need to increase investments in Oahu’s water infrastructure, reduce water main breaks, encourage conservation, provide sufficient funding for disaster recovery, and more equitably distribute rates and charges among types of customers.

As a result, the proposed rate changes -- which can be found at -- will vary by customer type.

  • Single family residential customers (stand-alone households and duplexes) will see the largest increase. As a group, these customers currently pay only 88% of the costs to serve them, leaving 12% to be subsidized by other rate-payer classes.
  • Multi-unit residential customers (triplexes up to high-rise complexes) will see smaller increases as rates are adjusted over time to eliminate their subsidy to single family customers.
  • The billing charge currently assessed to all customers at a flat rate is proposed to become a monthly customer charge that varies by meter size, to more fairly distribute costs so that customers with larger meters pay more. Most residences have smaller meters.
  • Customers with private fire protection systems will no longer pay for incidental water use, but instead will pay a nominal monthly fire meter standby charge.
  • A new affordability water-use tier will be added to cover “Essential Needs” for basic water uses such as drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene. The tiers are being adjusted to encourage conservation.

All of these changes are intended to more equitably recover BWS’s costs, to provide water service, from each type of customer – so everyone pays their fair share.

The proposed changes are based on 4 years of studies, intensive analysis, and public input, including BWS’s preparation of a Water Master Plan, a 30-year Infrastructure Investment Plan, and a Long Range Financial Plan. The rate proposal reflects input from a community advisory group with representation throughout Oahu, meetings with diverse island interests, as well as multiple customer surveys and focus groups.

Prior to adopting the proposed rates, BWS is reaching out again for broad public ideas and input. “We’ve been working on the planning and technical evaluations to revamp the BWS rate structure for a long time,” noted BWS Manager and Chief Engineer Ernest Lau. “We think we’ve done a very thoughtful and thorough job. All of our revenue comes from our customers, so we want to hear from them whether we’ve got this right.”

“We’ve heard loud and clear that reducing main breaks is important,” said BWS Board Chair Bryan Andaya. “While it won’t happen overnight, the revised rates and associated plans will put us solidly on that path.  At the same time, we’re taking this opportunity to give customers greater control of their water bills and be rewarded for their commitment to conservation.”

The draft water rate proposal includes schedules of monthly charges, consumption charges, fire meter standby charges, and fee subsidies to support affordable, homeless housing incentives, and fire sprinklers retrofit of existing high-rise residential buildings. The BWS also proposes to continue subsidized agricultural rates for qualified farmers. BWS is holding four public hearings on the proposed water rate changes, in addition to reaching out through the neighborhood board system, the community advisory group, and community and civic organizations. The locations and dates of public hearings, all of which are scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., are:

  • Honolulu – Thursday, April 26
    Mission Memorial Auditorium, 550 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96813
  • Kapolei – Monday, May 14
    Kapolei Hale, Ground Floor Conference Room, 1000 Uluohia Street, Kapolei, HI 96707
  • Kaneohe – Tuesday, May 15
    Benjamin Parker Elementary School Cafeteria, 45-259 Waikalua Road, Kaneohe, HI 96744
  • Mililani – Thursday, May 24
    Mililani Recreation Center #5, 95-1101 Ainamakua Drive, Mililani Town, HI 96789

IN ADDITION, people are encouraged to go to the BWS website at for more details and to share their ideas. They can call the BWS at (808) 748-5041, email, or send us a message on Twitter at @BWSHonolulu or Facebook at

About the Board of Water Supply

The Board of Water Supply (BWS), a semi-autonomous agency of the City and County of Honolulu, manages Oahu’s municipal water resources and distribution system.  As the largest water utility in the State, the BWS serves approximately one million customers on Oahu.  The BWS embraces its mission of “Water for Life – Ka Wai Ola” – to provide a safe, dependable, and affordable water supply, now and into the future.  Uwē  ka lani, ola ka honua – “When the heavens weep, the earth lives.”  For more information, visit



Kathleen Elliott-Pahinui
Information Officer
Honolulu Board of Water Supply
Phone: (808) 551-5848