Maui Water Availability Limit is Lifted - A Gift For Housing

If you have been trying to get an additional water meter on Maui to allow you to build a cottage, there is great news from the Maui Water Department. Effective July 1, 2016, the water department announced that limited additional water supply would be made available for property owners with existing meters. Today, I made a phone call to the Water Department Engineering Division and they confirmed that this is true, but words that I heard very clearly were, “You better buy the units right now, even if you can’t use them immediately." In other words, this is a temporary response to the dire need for additional housing everywhere.

If you have been trying to build a cottage on your property, or expand your existing home to add living area that requires toilets, showers, sinks, and other water-using fixtures, but your water meter capacity did not allow for additional use on your meter, this is great news. With the meter waiting list of over 1,000 people in the Upcountry area of Maui, which includes all of Kula, Pukalani, Makawao, Haiku, Haliimaile, and Haiku, residents in these areas who own an existing meter may now be able to build.

The present limitations on water meters are:

  • 5/8 inch meter size: 31 fixture units
  • 3/4 inch meter size: 53 fixture units
  • 1 inch meter size: 128 fixture units

What Does This Mean?

If you go to the county website, you will find a link to the water meter sizing worksheet and the proposed new fees.

If you want to build a cottage, for example, and your present home is using all 31 fixture units available, you would need, at a minimum, the following: tub/shower 1.7 units, lavatory 0.6 units, toilet 1.7 units, kitchen sink 0.6 units, and if you wanted to add a washing machine, it would be 2.0 units for a total of 6.5 units. The cost for the additional 7 units (6.5 rounded up to 7), you would pay 7 times $389 per unit, or $2,723.

The impact of this water rule is huge for housing of all types, especially rentals, as it will allow the addition of cottages where allowed on existing lots and expansion of existing homes to allow more living area. The cost is significantly lower than buying an upsize meter, if it is available at all.

For example, if you have to purchase a new 5/8 inch meter, the fee is $12,060, which allows 31 fixture units. To purchase a 3/4 inch meter, the fee is $18,884 and it allows 53 units. If you don’t need the additional 22 units, you can save a lot of money.

As a final note, if you own a residential condo on Maui and you are sharing a water meter presently, this may allow you to expand your present "condo" unit. Generally, this is a limitation for residential condos.

Bottom Line

This is probably one of the most effective ways that the county has helped with the need for more housing in years. Many thanks are due to David Taylor who heads the Water Department and those in the administration who have supported this decision.

You better pay for your units immediately, pull your building permits, and get to work before this opportunity literally “dries up."

Tracy S. Stice 808-281-5411