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County looks to clean up plumbing code

LIHUE — A bill relating to the plumbing code that has been before the County Council Public Works and Veteran Services Committee for a year and a half dominated the discussion of the committee meeting Wednesday morning.

“It’s been a tough journey, and this bill has taken time, and we have had changes in leadership at the plumbing union,” said Ross Kagawa, council vice chair and committee chair. “And they still feel opposed to the current bill that is before us. The hang-up is the UPC and IPC issue.”

At the heart of the argument, the committee considered whether to allow only the Universal Plumbing Code in county code and remove International Plumbing Code, or to use continue using both.

“The State Building Council recommended that both codes be part of Kauai County’s code,” Kagawa said, adding that for 14 years the county has used both IPC and UPC as part of the county code.

“For us here, the decision today is whether to keep it that way, or do we have an amendment that will take the IPC out?” Kagawa said. “The reason why the request is being made to take it out is due to the due diligence that we have done. We have found there’s basically over the 14 years there’s no instances of IPC actually being used where UPC could not.”

Councilmember KipuKai Kuali‘i made an amendment to the bill on behalf of the Plumbers and Fitters Local 675 union later in the meeting that was seconded by Councilmember Felicia Cowden.

“It’s a plumbing code, so if we have to choose between unions, it’s the plumbers,” Kuali‘i said.

Ryan Kobayashi with the Hawaii Laborer’s Union later in the meeting gave specifics as to what he views as the best route for the county code.

“What I think what maybe some people are missing is that this is the compromise,” Kobayashi said. “What Kauai has had for the past 14 years is the compromise. It allows both and it doesn’t allow both on equal footing.”

Kobayashi reminded the committee that the code would need to be approved by a licensed mechanical engineer before the council could finalize the bill.

“We’re just advocating for the fact that just leave it in,” he said. “Just leave it. It’s been there for 14 years or 12 years, I’ve heard different things. It hasn’t hurt the county, it hasn’t hurt the people of Kauai. It hasn’t hurt the plumbers.

Kobayashi said the IPC code has not hurt anyone on Kauai in the past and it will not in the future. He recommends the county try to build a project only using UPC to see if there are any health or safety concerns posed by the IPC code before removing it.

In a vote on both the amendment and the bill itself, the committee voted in favor, 3-2. The bill will now go before the full council for final disposition.

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Ryan Collins, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or rcollins@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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