HONOLULU — Honolulu will delay a planned stormwater utility fee and fund until after Hawaii’s economy improves from the impact of the coronavirus, officials said.
The city plans to continue a second series of community meetings this week about a proposal to improve storm water management and to reduce the flow of stormwater into streams and the ocean, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.
The Department of Facility Maintenance had planned to send bills establishing the program and the fund this summer with hopes of starting the program in July 2022.
The city will delay the bills until at least next year, Facility Maintenance Director Ross Sasamura said.
The city’s storm drain system catches runoff from streets, parking lots and yards, which is normally not treated before the runoff flows into streams and ocean water.
The stormwater runoff is separate from the sanitary sewer system, which carries wastewater from homes and businesses to plants for treatment before reuse or release to the ocean.
The storm drain proposal was changed following public input during meetings earlier this year. The pandemic caused subsequent meetings to take place online.
The delay will give the department time to explore options including an Oahu stormwater master plan, a program for property owners to earn credit for reducing runoff, a neighborhood reinvestment plan, and a relief and hardship plan for seniors, nonprofit organizations and low-income families.
The U.S. Environmental Protect Administration requires municipalities to take specific actions to reduce stormwater runoff and pollution, officials said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.