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Changes to Cesspools and Wastewater Systems

DOH News Release

There are changes to rules about cesspools and wastewater systems taking place, and the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is soliciting public comments and holding meetings around the state, including Molokai.

Proposed changes include prohibiting the installation of new cesspools and requiring connections or upgrades of existing cesspools to septic systems within 180 days after sale of property.

There are roughly 90,000 cesspools statewide in Hawaii, with nearly 50,000 located on Hawaii Island, almost 14,000 on Kauai, more than 12,000 on Maui, more than 11,000 on Oahu, and more than 1,400 on Molokai. The untreated wastewater from cesspools can contaminate ground water, drinking water sources, streams and oceans with disease-causing pathogens, algae-causing nutrients, and other harmful substances. It is estimated that cesspools in Hawaii release as much as 23,700 pounds of nitrogen and nearly 6,000 pounds of phosphorus into the ground each day which can degrade water quality, stimulate undesirable algae growth, and impact our coral reefs.

The DOH is extending the public comment period for changes to Hawaii Administrative Rules, Title 11, Chapter 11-62, Wastewater Systems. Written statements will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 17, at the Wastewater Branch, Environmental Management Division, Hawaii Department of Health, 919 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 309, Honolulu, HI 96814-4920. For detailed information on the rule changes go to health.hawaii.gov/wastewater.

A public hearing will be held on Molokai on Friday, Oct. 10, at 5 p.m. at the Kaunakakai Gymnasium.

For more information on the community meetings schedule, contact the Wastewater Branch at (808) 586-4294.

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