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Kahele Secures $50 Mil to Address Cesspools, Wastewater Systems

June 9, 2021, 7:55 AM HST
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Hawai‘i’s freshman congressman secured $50 million to invest in domestic wastewater systems, prioritizing household cesspools – a rampant problem across rural Hawaiʻi.

Today, Congressman Kaialiʻi Kahele (HI-02), a member of the US House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, successfully championed a bipartisan bill, The Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021, which would authorize a direct $50 million investment in infrastructure investment over the next five years. The measure is meant to address America’s crumbling wastewater infrastructure and local water quality challenges.

The bill passed through the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Wednesday, June 9, and awaits a vote on the House Floor.

“I thank the committee for approving my request for $50 million through the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act to address the roughly 88,000 cesspools that contaminate Hawaiʻi’s drinking water, erode our coral reefs and threaten our coastal ecosystem,” Kahele said. “As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this bill through Congress and get it to the President’s desk, because investing in Hawaiʻi’s clean water infrastructure can’t wait.”

The Hawaiʻi Department of Health has estimated that Hawaiʻi’s cesspools release approximately 53 million gallons of untreated sewage into the environment each day. In 2017 the State of Hawaiʻi enacted Act 125 which would prohibit nearly all cesspools throughout the State by the year 2050.

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The Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 renews funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program – the primary source of federal assistance for wastewater infrastructure construction, to establish a new clean water grant to invest in communities with failing septic systems. In addition, this new grant will prioritize funding to communities that lack access to adequate sewage treatment systems.

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“The current state of Hawaiʻi’s infrastructure and wastewater systems threatens the health of our people, our land and our oceans,” Kahele stated. “We have to act now to modernize our aging infrastructure by scaling up and implementing successful programs, particularly in rural areas. Congressman Kahele.

Click here to watch Kahele’s remarks delivered in committee in support of the legislation.

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