WAILUKU - The Maui County Council on Friday gave final approval to legislation that would do away with the long-standing waiting list for water meters Upcountry.
The council voted 5-2 in favor of the measure, which will set a last day to sign up for the waiting list. Council Members Gladys Baisa, Bob Carroll, Elle Cochran, Don Couch and Mike White voted to advance the bill, while Council Chairman Danny Mateo and Council Member Joe Pontanilla voted against it. (Council Members Riki Hokama and Mike Victorino were excused.)
Mateo and Pontanilla had instead favored deferring the bill to the upcoming council term that begins Jan. 2, allowing for the Board of Water Supply to review the measure at an upcoming meeting.
The measure, which still requires the mayor's signature, is part of a package of three bills put forward by the water department to deal with the waiting list. The list, established in 1994, included nearly 1,500 applicants as of June 30.
Department of Water Supply Director Dave Taylor has said that the department can eliminate the list by maximizing the use of surface water in Upcountry while implementing conservation incentives.
By establishing a last day to sign up, the department can then offer water meters to those on the priority list - in order - over an estimated two to three years.
Taylor has said that meeting the needs of all applicants on the waiting list will require an additional 3.5 million gallons a day. But, the department estimates that only half of those on the list have an immediate need for a meter.
"This is a way to put an end to the era of this list constraining us," Taylor told the council Friday. "There's a difficulty with people who are on the same street, who are separated on the list, who can't combine their financial abilities to do site improvements. If we can get to a point in the future where this list does not constrain anyone, we won't have that problem anymore."
A second bill would authorize the water director - with the approval of the mayor - to declare periods of water shortages countywide that would trigger higher water rates to encourage conservation.
While that measure was approved and passed out of the Water Resources Committee, the council voted 5-2 Friday to refer it back to next year's council chair.
The third measure would establish tiers of higher drought rates during declared water shortage periods. That bill has yet to go before the council's Budget and Finance Committee.
In other action Friday, the council voted on second and final reading to:
* Amend the fiscal 2013 budget to include $5.2 million in general obligation bond funding for the Waikamoi Flume replacement project.
Pontanilla, chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee, noted that the additional funds were needed because budgeted money from the state Department of Health ended up only funding 60 percent of the work.
* Authorize parks security officers to issue citations and to prohibit unauthorized activity in county parks.
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.