UPDATE – (Saturday, September 24)
- An environmental impact statement preparation notice (EISPN) has been issued concerning plans for future wastewater services in the Puna district.
- Currently, the County of Hawai‘i does not provide any wastewater collection and treatment facilities in Puna. Many residents are served by individual sewerage systems, including cesspools. State law requires all cesspools in Hawaiʻi to upgrade or convert to a septic or aerobic treatment unit – or connect to a sewer system – by January 1, 2050.
- The EISPN says a Puna wastewater facility plan is anticipated to be issued in August 2023.
- A public scoping meeting on the EISPN will be held on Wednesday, October 12, 2022, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Keaʻau High School Cafeteria (Building C), 16-725 Keaʻau-Pāhoa Road, during the statutory 30-day public review and comment period.
A few excerpts from the EISPN:
The Proposed Action is the addition of wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal infrastructure and services for the Project Area. The action would provide efficient, technologically advanced, and resilient wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal infrastructure and services, primarily to town and village centers in the Project Area.
Presently, the County of Hawai‘i does not provide any wastewater collection and treatment facilities in the Project Area. As of 2005, most residents in the district were served by individual sewerage systems including cesspools and household aerobic treatment units (County of Hawai‘i 2005). There are an estimated 49,300 inventoried cesspools in the County of Hawai‘i that discharge approximately 27.3 million gallons of raw sewage effluent into the county’s groundwater and surface waters per day (State of Hawai‘i Department of Health [DOH] 2017, 2021a). Figure 3-5 shows cesspool locations within the Project Area. Based on May 2017 data from the DOH, as of 2010, there were approximately 16,000 cesspools on 15,400 properties in the Project Area discharging approximately 8.5 million gallons of raw sewage effluent (Hawai‘i Statewide GIS Program 2021a).
The Proposed Action (defined in the next section) is needed to support the ongoing process of economic recovery in the Project Area, which has been impacted by the 2018 Kīlauea Eruption and Hurricane Lane, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It also is needed to reduce the risk to human health and the environment posed by reliance on dated, substandard sewage disposal methods for wastewater disposal in the Project Area. The purpose of the Proposed Action is to aid the economic recovery of the Project Area and Hawai‘i County, and secondarily to contribute to the improvement of groundwater and surface water quality.