(BIVN) – The Department of Health presented their new report, Relating to Cesspools and Prioritization for Replacement, to a joint committee in Honolulu on Wednesday.
There are 88,000 cesspools in Hawaii, which release about 55 million gallons of untreated sewage into the ground every day. The health department report identifies 14 priority areas where upgrades are needed, including several on the Big Island. Hawaii has more cesspools than any other state.
The state banned new cesspools last year and law requires that all cesspools be eliminated by 2050, the legislature says. The Health Department estimates that it will cost $1.75 billion, or about $20,000 each to fix.
Lawmakers who sit on the House Committee On Energy & Environmental Protection (of which Kona rep. Nicole Lowen is the vice chair), the House Committee On Health & Human Services, the Senate Committee On Agriculture And Environment, and the Committee On Commerce, Consumer Protection, And Health also had the chance to weigh in on the report. Hawai‘i Island reps Joy San Buenaventura and Lowen had something to say.
The Big Island’s environmental management director, Bill Kucharski, was also on hand for the O‘ahu briefing. He shared the county’s view on the cesspool report.
The administrations’ position against the prohibition of cesspools on the Big Island is well known. Mayor Harry Kim’s state legislative assistant, Andy Levin, lobbied the legislation on the issue last year. But the mayor’s opinion is not necessarily shared by the county council.