Following the lead of 39 other states, which have over 2,000 storm water utilities, the Hawaii Legislature passed a bill in 2015 to allow the creation of such utilities in Hawaii. Honolulu is currently in the process of studying and preparing for the formation of a storm water utility for Oahu. There is a website with additional information: www.StormWaterUtilityOahu.org. The process is being led by the Department of Facility Maintenance (DFM) which is charged with the City’s storm water compliance activities, but the utility will affect all properties on the island including private,
City, State, and Federal; including properties that are currently tax-exempt. Fees will be based upon the square footage of impervious area on every parcel on the island. A Stakeholder Advisory Group for Honolulu Stormwater Utility Formation which has broad representation began meeting in the summer of 2019 for an 18-month study. The Advisory Group is working with consultants on community engagement, program needs, fee/rate structures, credits/incentives, and implementation planning. It is anticipated that the Honolulu City Council will begin considering a bill to form the utility in the Fall of 2020 and begin collecting fees in 2021. A storm water utility is seen as a better way to collect fees dedicated to a specific service. Already, millions are spent annually on maintenance activities, permitting, monitoring and other activities to comply with Federal standards via MS4 permits. Schedules of increasing percentage of serviced areas are already in place and additional compliance activities are anticipated. Dedicated funds that cannot be used for other purposes are required to meet the standards and the community goals of a clean and healthy environment. The Advisory Group holds meetings that are open to the public and schedules are available on the website. The storm water utility will affect all residents/visitors and the water/wastewater industry has expertise in treatment and maintenance that will be important in the increased activities the utility will fund.