(BIVN) – Future options for a Puna wastewater system were discussed at the Hawaiʻi County Council on Tuesday.
The Communications, Reports, and Council Oversight Committee was given a presentation by AECOM, the consulting firm that is assisting the Department of Environmental Management in putting together the Puna Wastewater Facility Plan and the Pāhoa Wastewater Feasibility Study.
“There’s 14,800 cesspools in Puna and 400 in Pahoa,” said AECOM’s Rae Loui, “and that you can compare to about 50,000 in the county of Hawaiʻi and 88,000 in the state. So Puna has a substantial number.”
“You are all familiar with Act 125 that requires replacement of all 88,000 cesspools by 2050,” Loui said. “And thus, the state’s Cesspool Conversion Working Group
deemed that all of the cesspools in the Puna District are priority Category Three, which is the lowest of all three groups.”
A Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project has been published.
The cost of the project, which has proposes alternatives, will be in the billions of dollars.
“Wow, this is going to cost a lot of money,” commented Puna councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz. “For me, it really comes down to the affordability. I know that there needs to be some kind of solution that’s put forward because of the social and environmental impact, but the cost of living in Hawaiʻi is so outrageous and to factor in one more bill… we’re pricing people out of paradise.”
One alternative proposes sending the waste to Hilo for treatment at the existing facility in Keaukaha. The idea does not sit well with Hilo councilwoman Sue Lee Loy.
“I got a community who’s over it,” Lee Loy said. “They’re done carrying everybody’s waste. When I look at your evaluation criteria, and the alternatives, I think what’s missing in some of this is the historical carrying capacity of a community who’s done doing it already. We’re absolutely done.”