Leaking cesspool removed

KAPAA — Tepairu Manea was happy to see the county dump truck arrive with loads of sand Monday morning at the Kapaa Beach Park.

“May I have some?” he asked of the Department of Parks and Recreation supervisors who oversaw the loads. “The Kauai Powwow just wrapped up and I have to get the park ready for this weekend and the Coconut Festival. I’m using the sand to fill in some of the holes.”

The Department of Public Works used the sand to fill holes after an old cesspool was removed Monday morning.

“It’s done,” said William Trugillo of parks and rec. “They came early this morning and took it away. We’re also waiting for the truck to return so the old sand surrounding the cesspool can be loaded up and taken away.”

The cesspool, a remnant of the former pavilion at the Kapaa Beach Park, was exposed in August by erosion generated from the passage of several tropical storms around the state.

“Surfrider is thankful that the county finally removed the cesspool that was exposed at the Kapaa Beach Park early in August,” said Dr. Carl Berg. “With the removal of the sand, it is unlikely there is any further contamination of the area. The cesspool uncovering showed the problem of increased beach erosion due to the hardening of the shoreline with rocks and increased frequency of storm surge.”

Eyewitnesses and representatives of several environmental action groups said the cesspool was creating excessive amounts of bacterial contamination in, and around the beach where it was exposed. This was caused by the contents of the cesspool leaking out of its portals.

“When I met the mayor (in late August), I could see he was truly stricken,” said Katherine Muzik, a coral researcher, in an email. “This is the bike path; there are tourists, and me, most important, my corals suffering from a multitude of sins.”

Berg said he took water and sand samplings from the base of the exposed cesspool on Sept. 2 after noticing the exposed structure on Aug. 11.

“The count was more than 24,196 bacteria per 100 ml, the highest I can measure,” Berg said in an email. “By law, it should be less than 130 so this is 100 times worse, but no signs are posted. Also, wires and rusty pipe are now exposed. This is dangerous. Big surf on Sept. 1 may have done more erosion. This is more danger, but there are no warning signs from the county, or the state’s Department of Health.”

The concrete rings and backfill material that form the cesspool will be taken to Pacific Concrete Cutting and Coring for recycling. A report on the cesspool removal will be generated and submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency.

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