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Maps of Cesspools on Hawaii Island and Hilo – 90,000 Banned Statewide By 2050

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency required the County of Hawaii to close 7 large cesspools here on the Big Island of Hawai.

Hawaii House Bill 1244 has passed and is headed to Governor Ige to sign into law.

Cesspools on the Island of Hawaii.

The bill as written would ban the currently 90,000 cesspools that are already here in Hawaii (50,000 of those on the Big Island alone) by the year 2050.

Cesspools in Hilo (I did not zoom into each TMK property… I just checked to make sure I was in the clear!)

Hawaii House Bill 1244:

According to the Hawaii Department of Health:

Cesspools are substandard systems.  They don’t treat wastewater, they merely dispose of it. Cesspools concentrate the wastewater in one location, often deep within the ground and in direct contact with groundwater, causing groundwater contamination.  This groundwater flows into drinking water wells, streams and the ocean, harming public health and the environment, including beaches and coral reefs.

 What are cesspools?

  • Cesspools are little more than holes in the ground that discharge raw, untreated human waste.
  • Cesspools can contaminate ground water, drinking water sources, streams and oceans with disease-causing pathogens, algae-causing nutrients, and other harmful substances.
  • Untreated wastewater from cesspools contains pathogens such as bacteria, protozoa and viruses that can cause gastroenteritis, Hepatitis A, conjunctivitis, leptospirosis, salmonellosis and cholera.

 How many cesspools do we have in Hawai`i?

  •  There are approximately 90,000 cesspools in the State, with nearly 50,000 located on the Big Island,  almost 14,000 on Kauai, over  12,000 on Maui, over 11,000 on Oahu and over 1,400 on Molokai.
  •  Hawai`i is the only state in the US that still allows construction of new cesspools.
  •  Approximately 800 new cesspools are approved for construction in Hawai`i each year.

How many cesspools pose a risk to our water resources and how do they impact our environment?

  •  There are 87,000 cesspools that pose a risk to our water resources.
  •  There are approximately 6,700 cesspools that are located within 200 feet of a perennial stream channel  throughout the State.  There  are approximately 31,000 cesspools that are located within the perennial  watersheds on the islands of Hawai`i, Kauai, Maui, and  Molokai.
  •  Cesspools in Hawai`i release approximately 55 million gallons of untreated sewage into the ground each  day.
  •  Cesspools in Hawai`i release as much as 23,700 pounds of nitrogen and nearly 6,000 pounds of  phosphorus into the ground each  day each day, which can stimulate undesirable algae growth, degrade  water quality, and impact coral reefs.

Click here to see if your property needs certification or is near a cesspool: Act 120 Eligibility Cesspool Finder