After reading "Panel OKs measure to protect water levels" (The Maui News, Nov. 27) regarding a bill before the County Council seeking to raise water rates during times of drought, I believe that our council needs to take a step back and study the issue from a legal perspective.
Hawaii Revised Statutes 209-9 states: "Prohibits any increase in the selling price of any commodity during a state of declared emergency or severe weather warning." This violation would be triggered if the governor were to declare a drought emergency for the state or the affected area that is forced to pay higher rates. Our county would then be subject to civil penalties as it would be guilty of price gouging.
Perhaps a better way to tackle the issue of water shortage is simply to create more water sources such as desalinization plants, wells, ordinances prohibiting new hotels or golf courses that don't use treated sewer water and even a prohibition against water features. I would not object to paying more for my water if it means developing more water sources so cutbacks are no longer necessary, but I do oppose charging the community more simply for punishment purposes. Let's solve the issue of water shortage instead of delaying the inevitable, and that is, no water for anyone period when we run out.