Today, as water rates continue to climb and the state struggles to find money to cover its $1 billion-plus deficit, Hawaii residents are paying more than $4 per month for water, according to a report by the Public Utilities Commission of Hawaii.
This represents more than a quarter of the cost of a standard 30-day water bill.
The rate hikes, which took effect July 1, are the first time the state has gone through a period of water rationing since 2013, when the average water rate was $1.24 per 100 gallons.
Even though the average price of water has doubled, Hawaii’s residents are still paying an average of $6.88 per month on average, the report found.
In fact, the average rate hikes this year are nearly double the average hikes from 2015, when water rates averaged $2.38 per 100 gallon.
According to the report, the total increase in water rates is a whopping 43 percent over the last six years.
Despite the increased cost, the cost for many people is still not high enough to make up for the increased use of the system.
“If you look at what water is actually used for, the rate increases are not very high compared to what is used,” said Mark Mihalich, the president of the Hawaii County Water Resources Commission.
“People are not getting as much of their water as they need.”
Water is so expensive that even a person in a $50,000 home would need to pay about $3,300 a year just to cover their water bill, Miharich said.
Mihalch said that, compared to the cost that people are paying for the system, it’s actually a small price to pay to help the state manage its finances.
Water usage is already high, Muhalich said, but he hopes the increases in water will help to reduce the cost and help the system work more efficiently.
As water rates increase, many people will also have to look to other ways to save money.
Homes across the state are being shuttered for the first month in the foreseeable future, as residents have become more reluctant to pay water bills.
More than 1,400 water closings took place across the entire state, with more than 600 homes shuttered and a total of 2,200 people left without water, Moulich said in a statement.
To help people cut back on their water use, the water commission has also made a series of other water savings incentives available to people.
Those incentives include discounted water rates and discounts on home heating oil, free water for households with children under six and a rebate on a monthly water bill for households that exceed $150 a month.
For more information, visit www.hawaii.gov/water-rates.