Neighbor Island Lawmakers Ask Governor NOT to Sign Wastewater Rule Change – New DOH Rules Would Ban New Cesspools Statewide

Nearly a dozen legislators are asking Governor David Ige not to sign off on a proposed state Department of Health rule change that would ban new cesspools statewide.  A letter, dated February 1, was signed primarily by neighbor island state representatives and senators whose constituents include many rural communities that rely on existing cesspools or the ability to install new ones.

CesspoolThe letter points out that a previous version of the rule change would have required conversion of all cesspools to septic systems, and would have cost Big Island homeowners, with over 50,000 cesspools, $1.5 billion.

“A bill to do that same thing was introduced into the Legislature in 2015 and DID NOT PASS.  In fact, a bill to ban new cesspools was NOT passed.  The will of the Legislature should thus be clear,” the letter states.  “Furthermore, this rule change greatly discriminates against the poorest of our citizens who might not be able to afford to build a home if a septic system is required.

“While the department claims that these rule changes are necessary to protect the public health and preserve our natural resources, the arguments in that regard are weak and unsubstantiated, and in fact contradictory and contrary to current legislative intent.”

The letter also notes that septic systems in Hawaii cost between $20,000 to $30,000 to install, compared to cesspools which range from $2,000-$3,000.

Neighbor island representatives and senators signing the letter include: Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu), Rep. Mark Nakashima (Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo), Rep. Richard Creagan (Naalehu, Ocean View, Capt. Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona), Rep. Richard Onishi (Hilo Keaau, Kurtistown, Volcano), Rep. Clift Tsuji (Keaukaha, parts of Hilo, Panaewa, Waiakea), Rep. Cindy Evans (North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala), Rep. Angus McKelvey (West Maui, Maalaea, North Kihei), Rep. Kyle Yamashita (Spreckelsville, Pukalani, Makawao, Kula, Keokea, Ulupalakua, Kahului), Rep. Lynn DeCoite (Nahiku, Paia, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Molokini), Senator Russell Ruderman (Puna, Kau), and Senator Lorraine Inouye (Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona).

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