Water rate hike seems fair, but public meetings a chance to listen, learn

The cost of water on Kauai just went up.

Done deal. You’re paying more for that H20 that flows to your property. You can’t fight it. No point in rallying neighbors to say you’re paying enough already and you won’t take it anymore.

But you can comment on this increase. You can question it. You can ask why it’s necessary. We hope you do.

Here’s why.

The Department of Water is still holding informational meetings to discuss the 11.2 percent water rate increase that took effect Monday.

For the average customer who uses 7,500 gallons of water per month, the increase will amount to 12 cents per day, or $3.65 per month, bringing their total monthly bill to $49.43.

This was the third of four scheduled increases approved by the Kauai Board of Water Supply in December 2011.

The extra money will pay for replacing the island’s water infrastructure, parts of which are as much as 80 years old.

Four public meetings on the rate hike have been held in Lihue, Kapaa, Koloa and Kilauea. Tonight’s from 6 to 8 is at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center. Wednesday’s is at the Hanapepe Neighborhood Center and Friday’s, the Waimea Neighborhood Center. Both are also 6 to 8 p.m.

The final increase will take effect in July 2014.

Paying around $50 a month for water sounds reasonable — even on an island that gets as much rain we do.

And the increase seems justified to repay loans, make repairs and prepare for what’s ahead.

In 2001, the DOW developed its Water Plan 2020 to address needed upgrades, and is following that plan in making improvements, according to a press release.

OK. That all sounds reasonable and we don’t object.

Our concern is this: The turnout for the meetings so far has been sparse. No surprise. There hasn’t been a whole lot of interest. Folks seem satisfied with paying more for their water, for the reasons stated by DOW. It’s certainly not a crazy move.

Still, we encourage citizens to attend these final public meetings on the rate increases. It might not sound like a worthwhile investment of your time, but it is. While this water rate increase is justified, it behooves the public to be vigilant in monitoring its government. Show them you are paying attention. By attending, you’ll find out where your money is going, and why. You’ll be able to ask questions. You’ll know what’s up. No surprises.

Most important, you’ll hold people accountable for how they’re using your money today, and how they plan to use it tomorrow.

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