East Hawaii News

Lawmakers Call on Ige Not to Sign Cesspool Rule Change

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Hawaii State Legislature photo.

Hawaii State Legislature photo.

Governor Ige has been asked by almost a dozen legislators to hold off on a proposed Hawai’i Department of Health rule change, which would ban new cesspools across the state if passed.

Big Island legislators Representative Mark Nakashima, Representative Richard Creagan, Representative Richard Onishi, Representative Clift Tsuji, Representative Cindy Evans, Senator Russell Ruderman, and Senator Lorraine Inouye, along with Maui County legislators Speaker Joseph M. Souki, Representative Angus McKelvey, Representative Kyle Yamashita, and Representative Lynn DeCoite, authored a letter dated on Feb. 1 that notes that their constituents reply on existing cesspool and/or the ability to install new ones.

Under a previous rule change, the letter highlights that the conversion of cesspools to septic systems could have cost homeowners on the Big Island a total of $1.5 billion in conversion costs for 50,000 cesspools.


In 2015, a similar bill was introduced into the legislature and did not pass.

The letter also claims that the rule change would “discriminate” against citizens who may not be able to afford to build a home under the requirement of having a septic system.

“While the department claims that these rule changes are necessary to protect the public health and preserve our natural resources, the arguments in that regard are weak and unsubstantiated, and in fact, contradictory and contrary to current legislative intent,” the letter noted.


In addition, the letter notes that in Hawai’i, septic systems cost between $20,000 and $30,000 to install. Cesspools in comparison range from $2,000 to $3,000.

Representative Nakashima represents Hamakua, North Hilo, and South Hilo; Representative Creagan represents Naʻalehu, Ocean View, Capt. Cook, Kealakeakua, and Kailua-Kona; Representative Onishi represents Hilo Keaʻau, Kurtistown, and Volcano; Representative Tsuji represents Keaukaha, parts of Hilo, Panaʻewa, and Waiakea; Representative Evans represents North Kona, North Kohala, and South Kohala; Senator Ruderman represents Puna, and Kaʻū; and Senator Inouye represents Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, and Kona.

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