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Lawmakers request prioritization of affordable housing if water shortage affects building projects

Henryk Niestrój

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply says it will consider a request by state lawmakers to prioritize affordable housing if new development projects are curtailed because of water shortages.

A group of state lawmakers sent a letter to the Board following an informational briefing Monday in which BWS officials said a building moratorium may be necessary.

Chief Engineer Ernie Lau spoke to a Honolulu City Council committee Tuesday and acknowledged the issue of equity in water use.

"For example, if we had to put an allocation on water — we’re not in that place yet — an allocation of water on different customers depending on their use, and some customers may choose just to say, ‘Well I’m just going to pay the higher rate.’ Others are struggling just to meet their bills, put food on the table, pay for their mortgage or their rent or utilities," Lau said.

The BWS shut down three of its wells in the wake of the fuel contamination of the Navy’s water system at Pearl Harbor.

Due to that, and an unusually dry rainy season, Lau has said mandatory water restrictions may be needed later this year.

The water utility has already called for a voluntary reduction in water usage by 10%.

Scott Kim was a news editor at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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