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State ends cesspool program

HANALEI — One day after the state identified Hanalei as one of 14 priority areas where cesspool upgrades are critically needed to protect public health, the Department of Health has withdrawn a program to help residents in the area.

In an email sent Wednesday to Maka’ala Ka’aumoana, executive director of Hanalei Watershed Hui, DOH struck down the Hanalei cesspool swap contract.

The contract provided money from DOH to the Hui to help pay for the replacement of 75 cesspools in Hanalei, between Waioli and Hanalei Rivers, by covering half the cost — up to $15,000 — for a swap to a septic or an advanced treatment unit.

There are about 270 cesspools in the Hanalei area.

“Unfortunately, we will be canceling the cesspool swap contract,” Michael Burke, program specialist with the Clean Water Branch of the DOH wrote in the email.

He continued: “We understand that it’s been a challenge to find suitable candidates for cesspool upgrades. However, Hanalei Watershed Hui committed to 15 upgrades and has yet to demonstrate that five property owners are willing to participate.”

Ka’aumoana knew the funding was in peril. On Tuesday, she sent a draft of a DOH letter that the Hui was preparing to send to prioritized property owners in Hanalei.

“Available funding should be seriously considered by Hanalei property owners at this time as the full cost of the upgrade may be incurred in the future,” the letter says.

When they made the deal, DOH told Ka’aumoana she had until the end of November to get five people to sign onto the program for it to continue. As of Wednesday, she had four letters of intent to replace the systems.

But that wasn’t enough.

“Community participation in the current Hanalei cesspool swap program has been disappointing, and interest by homeowners in using the program has been significantly lower than expected,” said Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for DOH. “If the federal funding for the program is not expended it must be returned.”

Though funding has waned for cesspool replacement in Hanalei, Ka’aumoana said the Hanalei Watershed Hui expects the state to move toward regulations requiring replacement of cesspools, especially in locations where the waters are impacted.

“It is unlikely funding will be available to help defray costs in the future,” she said.

DOH’s Polluted Runoff Control Program has an open request for proposals that targets Hanalei, and the entity is hoping that interested applicants will submit proposals designed to improve water quality in Hanalei and throughout the state.

Currently, a set of wastewater system rules signed into law by Gov. David Ige in 2016 requires the replacement of all of the state’s roughly 88,000 cesspools by the year 2050.

The same law banned new cesspools statewide and provided a taxpayer credit of up to $10,000 for cesspools upgraded to a sewer or septic system during the next five years.

That only works if you itemize your taxes, and to date about 50 taxpayers have used the program.

As far as Hanalei is concerned, DOH hopes to see the community take the initiative for cesspool replacement.

8 Comments
  1. Makaala Kaaumoana December 21, 2017 7:02 am Reply

    For about three million dollars Hanalei can replace 75 polluting cesspools with Advanced Treatment Units that actually clean the wastewater and reduce the pollution of Hanalei Bay. Properties in Hanalei sell for ten times this amount. Surely


  2. Makaala Kaaumoana December 21, 2017 7:06 am Reply

    For about three million dollars Hanalei can replace 75 polluting cesspools with Advanced Treatment Units that actually clean the wastewater and reduce the pollution of Hanalei Bay. Properties in Hanalei sell for ten times this amount. Surely the community can step up to this challenge and clean its waters. The Hanalei Watershed Hui has done all the work to make this happen and is prepared to coordinate this effort. Ready to clean the waters of Hanalei?


  3. JOSE E BULATAO December 21, 2017 9:09 am Reply

    With the “demand” for housing in an island environment, we need to be cognizant of the systems we require to address the means by which we handle contaminants and waste materials we incur upon the environmental integrity of our finite resources. What has been done to upgrade” the disposal systems of from our sinks and toilets? Clarity, transparency, and accountability all need to be addressed!


  4. harry oyama December 21, 2017 9:58 am Reply

    The State is looking in the wrong places to end cesspools when in fact the worst of cesspools is right in the State Capital housing the biggest cesspool of all, where all those corrupt politicians sit down to pass bills that benefit themselves and their croines!


  5. whodaguy December 21, 2017 10:16 am Reply

    Well, that just stinks…..


  6. Steve Martin December 21, 2017 1:13 pm Reply

    There should be no options on the 270 cesspools in and anywhere near Hanalei bay. Every property owner whether they like it or not should not be allowed to continue polluting the environment with their septic systems. If they don’t want to do it, then sell your property and the next owner during title closing will have to include the funds to bring it up to code. This goes for all cesspools that are currently creating a possibility of poor water quality. Once again the state and county continue to kick the can down the road, saying all
    88,000 systems must be brought up to code by 2050. What good will it do to continue polluting the environment for another 32 years with no improvements.


  7. Steve Martin December 21, 2017 1:31 pm Reply

    I remember the days of living in Hayden Lake Idaho. A gorgeous pristine environment. Many people built houses around the lake and eventually all the cesspools within 500ft. Of the lake were polluting the water. We weren’t given 32 years to fix the problem. Instead work began immediately to bring a sewer system around the entire lake that every property owner had to convert and hookup their property to it. The cost was added to our property taxes as a lien for the next 20 years. There is no longer pollution happening around the lake. A financial system can be put together so that the cost won’t bankrupt north shore residents. The pollution to Hanalei bay must be stopped period.


  8. manongindashadow December 21, 2017 4:25 pm Reply

    Mr. Martin. The worst polluters in that area(Hayden Lake) was the KKK Headquarters.


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