Cesspools were part of the discussion this week in Washington.
During a House Agriculture Committee hearing, Hawaiʻi Congresswoman Jill Tokuda had the chance to ask the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, directly, about the challenges Hawaiʻi faces as it attempts to convert its many cesspools.
REP. JILL TOKUDA: “There’s approximately 88,000 cesspools in Hawaiʻi. Most of which are in our small capacity cesspools on our neighboring Islands; part of my district. Last August, USDA and EPA launched the Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative to provide technical assistance, resources to help historically underserve communities identifying pursue Federal funding opportunities, as you know. The initiative started with pilots in 11 communities across the country. Specifically, how were they identified and prioritized? I’m particularly concerned about representation from our AANHPI (Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander) communities, geographically isolated communities – like many that we find in Hawaiʻi – that are struggling with both cost and access to infrastructure.
MICHAEL REGAN, U.S. EPA Administrator: “We’re providing more than $150 million in technical assistance grants over the next 5 years, and we selected the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation as one of our environmental finance centers, as well as the rural community assistance program, to directly assist communities like the ones that you’re speaking of.”
REP. TOKUDA: “I do know that you have been doing meaningful engagement with our native communities, in particular our native American tribes. I would also put a plug-in there that in terms of native Hawaiian consultation and coordination for our trust responsibilities, this is a primary area of concern and we would like to work with him this further. Thank you Mr. Chair, I yield back.”