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For Immediate Release
July 1, 2019

Board of Water Supply Rolls Out New Water Rates and Adjusted Tier Structure

HONOLULU – The Board of Water Supply’s (BWS) rolls out their new water rates and adjusted tier structure starting this month. The new schedule for water rates started in September 10, 2018 but rates did not change until July 2019. This 5-year schedule will run through June 30, 2023.

Manager and Chief Engineer Ernest Lau stated, “The new rates will allow us to continue the important program to increase our investments in repairing and replacing our water system infrastructure, including ramping up our pipeline replacement program over the next ten years to 21 miles per year, to reduce the number of main breaks and their impact on communities." 

Changes include not only increases to the rates but changes to the tier structure:

  • Gradual increases to the water rates will start July 1, 2019. The gradual increases will help customers avoid sticker shock and be easier to absorb and budget for over the next 5 years. In addition, each customer class will be moved closer to the cost that BWS incurs to serve them water. Currently single-family residents pay less than 90% of their cost of service while multi-unit and non-residential customers pay more. This addresses an issue of each customer class paying more of their fair share; a comment that came up frequently during the public hearings and comments received by BWS.
  • The monthly billing charge will move to a monthly customer charge based on meter size. Most single-family residences have 3/4” or 5/8” sized-meters and will not see a significant increase from the current $9.26 billing charge that they pay. This change better reflects the true costs associated with large meters.
  • BWS is adding an Essential Needs Tier that all residential customers will be given for the first 2,000 gallons of water used, to promote affordability. 10% of all BWS residential customers use less than 2,000 gallons per month. In addition, this will assist those on fixed and/or low incomes; another concern that came up during the public hearings and in comments received.
  • Subsidies will be provided to encourage development of affordable and homeless housing and support retrofit of automatic sprinkler systems for high-rise multi-unit buildings. This supports the city’s initiatives for these projects.
  • The agriculture water rate subsidy will be continued to support small farmers.

The BWS held 5 public hearings as well as presented proposed rate information to 15 Neighborhood Boards and other interest groups. In addition, earlier this year the BWS mailed out a newsletter as a bill insert to alert customers to the changes and, during July and August, a follow-up newsletter will go out explaining the changes to the bill.

Lau stated, “It is very important to the BWS to ensure wide-spread dissemination of the rate increases and structure changes. We continue to welcome and respond to all questions and comments from the community.”

Information regarding the new water rates and adjusted tier structure can be found on the BWS website at: Please email comments to

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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.  UwÄ“  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) 748-5319