KITV Honolulu, Hawaii —Hawaii is the only state that still allows homes to be built with cesspools. An estimated 90,000 homes across the islands from Diamond Head to Puna are not hooked up to city and county sewer systems. Last year, Gov. Neil Abercrombie left office without signing new rules into law that would have ended the practice. The law could have forced property owners with cesspools to upgrade the next time the home went up for sale.
This week when Gov. David Ige sat down with the Environmental Protection Agency, he had some explaining to do. “The EPA definitely has an end in sight for cesspools,” said Ige. Homeowners and realtors on several of the neighbor islands balked at the proposed changes. They maintain forcing them to get off cesspools would be a financial hardship. Ige says the EPA is not unsympathetic, but:
“They are committed to providing flexibility if there is a specific reason, but they are not willing to allow for a change in policy,” said Ige. To the EPA, it’s all about water quality. While some homes with cesspools are on the hillside, others are along the shoreline. Last year state health officials sent out the alarm about unusually high levels of bacterial counts in Kahaluu. At the time it was not clear if the E.coli was coming from wild animals or untreated human sewage.
Lawmakers will take up two bills: one to allow homeowners to tap low-interest loan to upgrade their systems and another to ban any new cesspool construction. Hawaii will have to face facts that the EPA wants results. “They were open to consider either working with us to develop timelines or other provisions that we would need to ensure that we can implement them in a reasonable manner,” said Ige.
Catherine Cruz’s – KITV4 Reporter..