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Legislation Introduced to Create Regional Cesspool Task Forces

March 15, 2018, 11:00 AM HST
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Rep. Kyle Yamashita (Maui) has introduced two resolutions to address Hawai‘i’s cesspool replacement problem.

House Resolution 99 and House Concurrent Resolution 111 call for the state Department of Health to create a Regional Task Force in each county to investigate the feasibility and potential impacts of cesspool replacement.

“People are worried about costs if they are required to replace their cesspools, about the safety of drinking water and about possible contamination of the soil,” said Yamashita. “In order to take a reasonable and responsible approach to cesspool replacement, I have introduced a measure to ensure that each county is able work on this complex and expensive issue.

“One important thing to remember while looking for cesspools solutions is that there is no one-size- fits-all answer,” said Rep. Yamashita. “And we need to find the right answer for Upcountry Maui. Other areas such as Keaʻau on Hawai‘i Island, Kōloa/Pōʻipu on Kauaʻi and Kahaluʻu on Oʻahu may have different solutions for their cesspool problems.”

There are about 88,000 cesspools in the state releasing 53 million gallons of untreated sewage into the ground each day. State law requires residents to replace cesspools with a septic tank or hook up to a sewer system by 2050. That could cost about $20,000, which many residents cannot afford.

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“Finding solutions to complex problems are not easy or inexpensive,” said Yamashita. “That is why we need a diverse, knowledgeable group to look carefully at this issue and find solutions that work best for each community involved.”

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