(BIVN) – A bill to amend the county water plan for the Keauhou Aquifer in Kona has been withdrawn.
On November 1, the Hawaii County Council Agriculture, Water & Energy Sustainability Committee took Bill 56 off the table due to community concerns. The bill would have addressed “regional water needs and source development strategies of the Keauhou Aquifer System area, accounting for demand projections identified by the Kona Community Development Plan as well as traditional and customary practice considerations,” the council committee agenda stated.
The withdrawal came at the request of Water Supply Manager-Chief Engineer Keith Okamoto, as detailed in Communication 0414.002:
By Communication 414.1 dated August 16, 2017, we transmitted draft Bill No. 65 as referenced above, for Council’s approval. This Communication was time-stamped as received by the County Clerk on the same date. The Bill was heard by Council’s Committee on Agriculture, Water, and Energy Sustainability (“AWESC”) on September 19, 2017. It has come to our attention that it may not have been made clear to AWESC that per Hawai‘i County Code (“HCC”) Section 29-3, if Council fails to act within ninety days of receipt of a proposed amendment to the Water Use and Development (“WUDP”), the amendment is deemed approved by default. Our assigned Deputy Corporation Counsel has informed us that “act” means an actual vote by Council for the approval or disapproval of the proposed amendments.
The Department of Water Supply (“DWS”) prefers that the WUDP update be formally approved by affirmative action of the Council rather than by default. Due to the concerns raised by AWESC at its September 19, 2017, meeting, we respectfully request withdrawal of draft Bill No. 65 as we would not be able to gather all the supplementary information requested by AWESC and receive additional review by the Commission on Water Resource Management (“CWRM”) for pre-approval, should it be necessary, in sufficient time for Council to vote on the matter before expiration of the ninety-day default period. We would like to introduce a new Bill for the WUDP update at a later date, to ensure that the information requested by AWESC can be compiled and so that Council has the opportunity to review the information within the established timeframe. We further request that withdrawal of Bill No. 65 be placed on the Committee’s agenda, so that the DWS can answer further inquiries before it begins gathering the supplemental information requested by AWESC.
Testifiers like Ruth Aloua thanked the council for their plan to withdraw the measure and hearing their concers. “Its my hope that we here in Kona can continue to work with you folks and figure out how to best address the things that were brought up in previous meetings,” Aloua said.
Aloua is planning to hold a meeting on Thursday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at One Aloha Shave Ice on Kuakini Highway in Kailua-Kona to talk about the water issue with interested community members.