Kaua‘i cesspool bill to move forward

Sean Ahearn

The State of Hawaii Clean Water Revolving Fund has $1.2 million to give to counties for cesspool conversion. Kaua’i County is the only island currently showing interest in setting up a program for the 2023 fiscal year, which means it would get the full amount. The Kaua‘i County Council is seeking to pass Bill No. 2837, which would establish the program through the county’s Housing Agency. Supposedly, the council has budgeted around $80,000 to cover administrative costs for the program and projects that the full cost will be between $100,000 to $150,000. They roughly estimated that $1.2 million would be enough to fund between 30 and 40 conversions, which would need to be completed before the end of June 2023.

Per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, current cesspools must be converted by 2050. This will take more of just the county to do so, the program requires participation from interested homeowners, contractors, and government agencies. The bill prioritizes properties that have an existing or approved building plan for additional dwelling units (ADU), additional rental units (ARU), or guest houses. Grants or a possible fee for homeowners were discussed as options to fund the additional cost which is not eligible for Clean Water State Revolving Fund money. As said, the main intention is to ensure that the program is sustainable, and finding a steady source of funding to cover administrative costs is part of insurance to
deliver the program.

The bill and subsequent program, have had support from nonprofits and residents. Since the high cost of converting a cesspool can be a deterrent for some people, most local homeowners will need financial assistance in order to convert their cesspools. With the implementation of this program, Kaua‘i will become a model for other counties to follow by eliminating the cesspool pollution and reducing the risks of water quality contamination and the health of our community. 

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