Water usage guidelines for Maui County

Water usage guidelines for Maui County

Maui’s Water Future Needs a Plan we Can all Understand with Best Data Available.

To Maui Water Board,  Please do not approve this current water plan (9/21/22). It is unfair, unsustainable, and inequitable. And this plan is based on old, erroneous data and does not address current community plans or community needs.  Please note: 

  1. This plan deprives residents from accessing their local water supplies, while sending water to other parts of the island for the benefit of other communities. 

  2. The plan does not consider climate change and the future sustainability of water sources. 

  3. The plan does not address the community plans of the areas when it proposes extracting water. 

  4. The plan ignores the current issues of creating regional community-based water boards, that are on the ballot in the next election. 

  5. The plan also unfairly allocates a large amount of water for future developments that may not occur in west Maui, because the county has determined that the current levels of hotels and resorts in west Maui should remain constant. 

  6. The Water plan does not prioritize water use for current residents over the allocation of water for future hotels and resorts for tourists that may never be built.

  7. The plan does not prioritize streams and ecosystems over commercial farming.

  8. The plan does not guarantee protection for streams, or aquifers, from overuse. 

  9. And the plan does not ensure fair access for cultural and traditional farmers and water users to their necessary and sustainable water requirements.

  10. The plan does not do enough to minimize water use, in hotels, resorts, and new housing, and to ensure that water is not wasted.

  11. This Plan does not do enough to protect the watershed lands and natural systems that produce and collect the water.     

José Manuel Suárez, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
José Manuel Suárez, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What is Maui’s maximum sustainable population with regard to current and future water availability?  

  • The maximum healthy/sustainable water limit should be used to set a maximum allowable human population on Maui, including all tourists and residents.  And to set maximum levels of livestock agriculture.

  • Water needs to be allocated first for the environment, cultural and traditional areas, current residential needs, and sustainable agriculture. The tourism sector must come after that.  

  • Sustainable water limits should also consider the proper and healthy allocation to all streams and ecosystems that depend on water, now and in the future. 

  • Sustainable water limits must account for reduced rainfall due to climate change, and provide for reserves and buffers to account for prolonged droughts.

  • Water limits and supplies must be able to buffer the negative effects of natural disasters that can impact water availability, contaminate supplies, and also damage water infrastructure. 


Suggested Water Use “Code of Ethics and Priorities”: 

  • Sustainable in-stream flows must be established and provided before exporting any surplus water.

  • There should be no exporting water out of any district until local needs are met.

  • Local AG uses such as taro farming, traditional and culturally significant farms, and small family farms should be allocated water first before any industrial agriculture or business farm.

  • Development is growing faster than the available water supply. There has been no maximum sustainable population limit set with regard to the available supply of water on Maui. 

  • Human activity should not be allowed to contaminate water sources, streams,  groundwater, and aquifers.

  • Ban the use of all toxic, forever chemicals from agriculture and industry, that can harm our water supplies.   

Kihei tap water Hoonani subdivision 2022


  • Aquifers are the water source held in trust for our future generations. 

  • Aquifers must not be overdrawn lest they allow salt water tables to rise. 

  • The aquifers must not be contaminated by chemicals and pollutants.

  • Aquifers are not to be used before surface water sources are used.

  • Aquifers have long recharge periods, sometimes hundreds of years.

  • Aquifers and groundwater are necessary for habitats and ecosystems, such as wetlands, springs, and offshore marine environments. 

  • Do not waste our aquifers for watering golf courses (golf courses use 1 million gallons of water per day).  

  • Golf courses and agricultural activities use chemicals and fertilizers that contaminate groundwater, aquifers, and leech into the ocean after rains.

  • No Toxic Chemicals should be allowed to be sprayed or dispersed within the watershed that can enter the water tables, groundwater, and aquifers. 



  • Golf courses are heavy water users. 

  • Golf courses use approximately 1 million gallons of water per day.

  • We should not waste our aquifers for watering golf courses. 

  • Golf courses use chemicals and fertilizers that contaminate groundwater and leech into the ocean after rains. 

  • Golf courses should be obligated to use R1 water if available.

  • Golf courses should be required to have limited water use permits. 

  • Golf courses should have strict controls on the types of chemicals and fertilizers that they are allowed to use, as they all end up in groundwater, streams, and the ocean.

  • Golf courses should only be located in areas with sufficient rainfall to sustain them without significant supplemental irrigation.  



  • New housing should be required to use low-flow toilets, showerheads, and aerated faucets in the bathrooms. 

  • New housing projects should only have native xeriscaping, or food-producing landscaping, with rooftop rain-capture and rain-gardens. 

  • New housing should incorporate irrigation by greywater.

  • New affordable housing should always include solar hot water, PV, and greywater reuse.

  • All Affordable housing, workforce housing, and rental housing should provide space for air-drying laundry.

  • Greywater should be used to flush toilets.



  • Water should only be used for agriculture on an as-needed basis. 

  • Year-by-year usage amounts are to be allocated as needed. 

  • Whenever farmland is not productive, the water allocation should cease. 

  • Water should be allocated for the crop, and not arbitrarily for the land.

  • Agriculture should not be used as a form of water banking to enable conversion into housing and real estate. 

  • Unproductive farmland should automatically forfeit its water rights. 

  • Unproductive farmlands should be returned to the state after a period of time. 

  • Livestock agriculture uses large amounts of water. 

  • Ranching and free-ranging cattle, and other ungulates (pigs, goats sheep, ) damage the soil, and groundcover plants, and harms the watershed lands. 

  • Livestock production (ranching) reduces the watershed’s ability to absorb and infiltrate rainwater into the groundwater. 

  • Ranchers must take better steps to minimize the damage that livestock does to the watershed and catchment lands. 

  • Livestock also produces large amounts of waste products that contaminate streams and water supplies.

  • Agriculture must be managed to cool the climate and increase rainfall. 

  • Planting perennial crops such as breadfruit trees gives shade, cools that land, improves soil stability, and increases rain infiltration. 

  • Annual crops that require bare earth farming increase soil loss, and increase moisture loss. And reduce rainwater infiltration.

  • Agriculture should be appropriate to the rainfall specific to the area. Crops should be selected to thrive with available rainfall or a specific area, and not rely on supplemental irrigation.

  • Agriculture must be balanced by the environment: For example, The celebrated “One Million (fruit) trees” planted by Mahi Pono, must be offset by planting 1 million native forest trees in the watersheds. 



  • Watersheds are the water makers. 

  • Watershed lands need to be preserved because they produce water by capturing rain, which provides surface water, and streams, and also recharges groundwater and aquifers. 

  • You cannot have this plan to distribute all of this water without having a plan to protect and enhance the watersheds that produce the water. 

  • Watersheds need to be preserved as native vegetation, and not turned into farmland. Farmland is a bad substitute for natural watershed lands. 

  • We need to replant plant native forests. To cool the climate, encourage rainfall, stabilize the soil, and capture rain. The watershed needs to have proper functioning gulches and streams/streambeds to be healthy. 

  • Streams and Gulches need to be preserved from development; Streams and gulches need to be protected in perpetuity, and properly managed to remain functional and healthy. 

  • Livestock and feral animals should not be allowed into stream beds where they cause the greatest harm.     



  • Our wastewater facilities clean our wastewater at great expense, and produce High-Quality R1 water. 

  • This water is a valuable asset that must not be wasted. R1 water still contains many nutrients that should not be put directly into the ocean or the groundwater.

  • Wastewater injection wells harm the ocean waters and degrade coral reefs. All R1 Water should be utilized on the surface, for irrigation and agriculture. 

  • Plants have the ability to bio-metabolize many of the nutrients and break down harmful compounds found in wastewater. 

  • Reclaimed water can and should be used for golf courses, irrigation for hotel landscaping, irrigation for public parks, and for agriculture. 

  • Reclaimed water can be used to provide green belts in the watersheds that can stabilize soils, and help cool the environment. 

  • We need to make a commitment to have 100% reclaimed water utilization by 2025. 

  • We should also try to phase out all wastewater injection wells by 2025. 

  • We should also phase out all cesspools that leach into groundwater and pollute water sources. 

  • We can improve the quality of our wastewater by banning non-biodegradable laundry soaps from Maui county.

  • We have a sunscreen ban, but think about the damage that all of the wastewater can do when it is contaminated by harmful substances. 



  • Hotels should be required to educate guests about the environmental footprints of laundry operations, and by encouraging guests to minimize the requirements for fresh towels and linens.

  • Hotels should be required to install water-saving toilets, showerheads, and tap aerators to save water. 

  • Bed linens should only be washed once per stay or once per week. 

  • Fresh Towels Daily is okay but their reuse should be encouraged.

  • Resorts should be obligated to use R1 for landscaping if available.

  • New hotels to incorporate greywater reuse systems.

  • Hotels to incorporate rooftop rain-capture designs. 

  • New hotels should be 100% solar hot water and PV sustainable.



REFERENCES (and Recommendations): 

Require Golf Courses to use R1 water if available; A golf course can use as much as one million gallons of water per day:  A golf course can use as much as one million gallons of water per day for irrigation and other nondomestic uses and it is inappropriate to use potable water for such purposes. https://www.mauicounty.gov/DocumentCenter/View/10390#:~:text=A%20golf%20course%20can%20use,potable%20water%20for%20such%20purposes.

Limit and discourage drinking water use for landscape irrigation:

  • Create a step-up fee system when consumers use water over normal personal use. 

  • Each person in a Home/condo/hotel should use no more than 100 Gallons per day.

  • 100 gallons per day per person, should be the maximum level available at the lowest tier rate. 

  • Additional water used should be sold at a much higher rate, this would encourage water efficiency, and promote water-saving behaviors.   

A typical three-person family uses 165 gallons of water every day, but their irrigation system can add another, 1,920 gallons each day they water.  (https://www.wsscwater.com/understandusage)

Encourage greywater reuse for landscape gardening: Condos and hotels to retrofit and get tax credits.

Reusing greywater can save families up to 40,000 gallons of water per year, and ease the burden on your septic system in the process. (https://waterwisegroup.com/greywater-education/greywater-systems-in-residential-homes/)

The amount of greywater produced in a household can vary greatly ranging from as low as 15 L per person per day for poor areas to several hundred per person per day:  Greywater Characteristics, Treatment Systems, Reuse … – NCBI

Create Fines for any ag or industrial users chemicals found in surface water or groundwater:  No forever chemicals should be allowed. No long-lived pesticides or herbicides are allowed. All chemicals sprayed outdoors must be reported to the water authority, and tested for in the water supply.

Soil control:  Sediments should not be allowed to leave AG lands. Ranchers should be required to install retention ponds and use soil control measures, at their own cost.

Control Water waste and water-hoarding:

  • Water dumping should not be allowed.

  • Water hoarding should not be allowed.

  • Water banking should not be allowed.

  • Water storage should not be allowed to exceed annual water use.

  • No large dams or reservoirs: and they should not exceed safety limits.

Water use rates for ornamental landscaping should be much higher than for food gardens or native plants: Food-producing gardens should be able to get a discount/rebate.

Climate change will reduce rainfall:  Current levels of water use may not be sustainable in the future. Limit growth to currently available water supplies.

Encourage Water Efficiency:  We can all use at least 20 percent less water by installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances. https://www.epa.gov/watersense/statistics-and-facts


Hotel laundry water consumption:  Water Consumption: Commercial laundry machines range in size from 25 to 400 dry pounds of laundry per load and use anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5 gallons of water per pound of laundry. This can translate to as much as 1,400 gallons of fresh water per load which is a significant quantity of fresh water. https://danamark.com/resources/improving-water-footprint-laundry-machines/

Hotel water usage per room:  According to studies, the daily average water usage per hotel room ranges from 100-400 gallons.  Luxury Hotels VS. Standard Domestic Consumption. Studies show that per overnight stay, luxury hotels use several times standard domestic consumption per capita. https://purebluesustainability.com/hotel-water-consumption-statistics-conservation/#:~:text=According%20to%20studies%2C%20the%20daily,ranges%20from%20100%2D400%20gallons.

Hotel Rooms use between 100-400 Gallons of water per day:  Total water usage across a wide variety of hotels ranges from under 100 gallons per day per room (gpd/rm) to over 400 gpd/rm. Older, luxury hotels and hotels with full-service restaurants and on-site laundry facilities typically exhibit the highest water usage per room.

How many gallons of water does a hotel room use per day?  Total water usage across a wide variety of hotels ranges from under 100 gallons per day per room (gpd/rm) to over 400 gpd/rm. Older, luxury hotels and hotels with full-service restaurants and on-site laundry facilities typically exhibit the highest water usage per room.  Hotel Water Conservation – Seattle.gov

Hotel Water Demand:  Water is a key aspect for any tourist destination. The pressure of tourism on water resources, and specifically by the hotel sector on islands and coastal areas, threaten the sustainability of the resource and, ultimately, of the destination. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334904238_Hotel_Water_Demand_The_Impact_of_Changing_from_Linear_to_Increasing_Block_Rates

Hotel Swimming Pools:  Require Hotel swimming pools to pump out pools and to reuse water for irrigation or off-site use. No dumping/wasting of pool water should be allowed.