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Paying for Water

The Board of the County of Kaua'i Department of Water has the authority to establish rates for water usage, issue revenue bonds, and acquire property as necessary to fulfill its mission of meeting the island's water needs in coordination with county and state plans, including the County General Plan.

Direct annual water sales amount to nearly $19 million, which helps support an operating budget of about $21 million. The board and the department manage a business with a complex array of resources, including state revolving funds, investments of various kinds, bonds and various other receipts.

In addition to usage rates, there is also a charge for adding new water meters to the system, called the facilities reserve charge (or FRC). This charge is to pay for the additional system expansion required to provide for new customers. Currently debt service to pay for bonded projects amounts to $2.5 million per year.

The Department receives no direct subsidy or contributions from the Kaua'i General Fund. It does occasionally receive state and federal grants for projects that meet certain criteria.

How is the money used?

There are four essential services that must be paid for in order to deliver safe water to your facility or home:

  • Operation of the pumps, tanks, pipelines and customer services
  • Maintenance of the pumps, tanks, pipelines and other facilities
  • Replacement of pumps, tanks, pipelines and other facilities
  • Debt service for borrowed funds pushing the replacement expense to future generations.

  • A significant amount (15%) of the Department's budget is spent on electricity: the cost of pumping water from deep wells, some as much as 1,000 feet deep. The Department is working on a proposal for a new, high-elevation well that would not require pumping. It would allow water to be gravity-fed down to storage tanks instead of being pumped up to them.

    These services are generally paid for by the rates that you pay for the amount of water you use.

    In addition, the Department must expand the system, to ensure sufficient water delivery. The Department currently charges new customers a one-time Facilities Reserve Charge (FRC) to set up a new water connection. The FRC is intended to recover a proportional share of the cost of facilities (source, storage and transmission) necessary to provide water to new developments—small and large. The FRC charges were last updated in 2004.

    The Department of Water also has significant needs for storage. Most of our communities on Kaua'i require new storage tanks. Many of those construction projects are currently underway or being planned.

    We urge users to conserve water…

    Because most of the county's water systems are operating near their capacity, the Department of Water aggressively promotes conservation. A variety of programs is utilized to encourage customers to limit their water consumption, including promoting efficient plumbing fixtures, sharing tips to conserve water usage, public outreach with stakeholders and schools and more. The Department of Water website has an extensive list of water conservation tips.