Bureaucracy on Maui Leading to Water Shortage

“Show Me the Water” is a policy that has the intention of ensuring that Maui County has enough water to support the community. However, sometimes intentions are different from reality.

On Maui, water can be hard to come by — not because there isn’t enough water, but because of bureaucracy. Kaloa Robinson of Standford Carr Development joined Joe Kent on “The Grassroot Institute with Dr. Keli’i Akina” a weekly radio show on KAOI 1110AM 96.7FM, to discuss how this policy is negatively affecting affordable housing projects on Maui.

The “Show Me the Water” ordinance asks home builders to provide evidence that they have their own source of water to support the homes being built. However, this bill is slowing down the process, especially for low-income communities.

Maui County Code 14.12 prevents the issuing of construction permits if the company cannot prove that they have a long-term reliable source and capacity of water. In order to show water, the development site must already have a connection to the county water supply, or it must drill its own well. The county water department has a history of dragging its feet when it comes to issuing permits, so that only leaves one option — drilling a well.

Kaloa notes that drilling a well may sound simple but it’s a very lengthy and expensive process especially for low-income housing developments. The cost becomes unfeasible because money is spent not only to dig the well but also to build the structure that brings the water to the housing units.

Kaloa said that building a well could cost $12 million to $15 million and takes time and money away from building low-income units.

Some are afraid that Maui is running out of water, however Maui actually uses less than 10% of the water that’s supplied. “There’s a ton of water out there” said Kaloa.

In fact, two of the wettest places on Maui are located in the East Maui Watershed. Kaloa stated that political will is needed to invest in the infrastructure and sustain smart growth.

This law has slowed down many other developments on Maui as well, and the “Show Me the Water” ordinance may be a significant cause of the housing shortage on Maui.

To listen to the full audio, click below:


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