The Board of Water Supply is a semi-autonomous agency created in 1929.  The money it raises through fees does not enter the state or city funds, it is retained by the BWS for its own mission.  BWS is run by unpaid seven member Board with two ex-officios (DOT Director and Chief Engineer DFM), and five members appointed by governor and confirmed by City Council.  There is one water main break a day in Honolulu County.

  1. The State Commission on Water Resource Management (The State Water Commission)
    1. A powerful seven member commission that administers the Hawaii State Water Code under the DLNR.
    2. Two seats are ex-officio and five are governor appointed with Senate confirmation.
    3. Recent Controversy: in 2012, there was public backlash about two of Gov. Abercrombie’s appointees who were not qualified to be on board and had ties to conflicted companies.
  2. Recent Controversy around Board of Water Supply:
    1. In 2006, BWS gave out $500,000 in bonuses to executives.
    2. Rate hikes. 
      1. 70% over five years hike approved by BWS in 2011.
    3. 2013 new billing system
      1. Contractor EMA Inc of Minnesota paid nearly $3.5 million for new billing system that generated lots of complaints, the initial contract was for $800,000; overages due to change orders.  BWS CIO Brian McKee’s signed some of those change orders even though his wife used to work for EMA Inc.
      2. November 2013, Ethics Commission investigating BWS contracts to a company headed by CIO McKee.
      3. $7.02 charge every two months was charged monthly after new system implemented.
    4. BWS Autonomy
      1. 2014: Ernie Martin introduced CDR 14-63 to increase Board size to eleven and have water experts; two of the eleven would be City Council members.  Bill would require a general election ballot measure. The bill will be heard in early June 2014; Menor and Harimoto had strong reservations.
      2. 2013: Ikaika Anderson introduced resolution to give City Council ultimate power of BWS budget and clarify BWS is subject to City ethics laws.
      3. 2011: Ann Kobayashi tried to change BWS’s autonomy in 2011 through a Charter amendment granting City oversight.
      4. Maui underwent a similar process and took back administration of is county water supply in early 2000s.
      5. City Councilmen Ron Menor proposed a resolution for an audit of BWS, a portion of which is due August 2014. 
      6. BWS Board Members are opposed to the BWS losing its autonomy citing concerns about the politicization of fees and policy of water resources.