Re­plac­ing all cesspools in state is big chal­lenge

The Maui News - - NEWS -

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii law­mak­ers have learned that their plan to have all the state’s cesspools re­moved by 2050 is not an easy task.

Law­mak­ers met Wed­nes­day for an in­for­ma­tional brief­ing about a new state De­part­ment of Health re­port de­scrib­ing the scope of the prob­lem.

Cesspools are an out­dated means of sewage dis­posal. There are about 88,000 cesspools in Hawaii, all of which need to be re­placed with a sep­tic tank or hooked up to a sewer sys­tem.

The de­part­ment’s re­port said the state’s cesspools re­lease about 53 mil­lion gal­lons of raw sewage into the ground each day, rep­re­sent­ing a sig­nif­i­cant risk.

The prob­lem, how­ever, is that it’s un­likely many home­own­ers will be able to af­ford an up­grade. County gov­ern­ments also might not be able to fi­nan­cially sup­port peo­ple.

The de­part­ment’s re­port said it could cost about $20,000 to re­move each cesspool. The cost to up­grade all of the state’s cesspools is es­ti­mated at $1.75 bil­lion.

Fund­ing ideas will be for­mu­lated dur­ing the up­com­ing leg­isla­tive ses­sion, which starts Jan. 17.

“The re­port find­ings are trou­bling and show waste­water from cesspools is be­gin­ning to im­pact drink­ing wa­ter in some parts of up­coun­try Maui,” Health Direc­tor Dr. Vir­ginia Pressler said. “The wa­ter in these ar­eas is still safe to drink, with no ev­i­dence of bac­te­rial con­tam­i­na­tion; how­ever, there are early warn­ing signs that tell us we must act now to pro­tect the fu­ture of our drink­ing wa­ter and the en­vi­ron­ment.”

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