The State of Hawai‘i has nearly 88,000 cesspools that discharge over 50 million gallons of raw sewage into the State’s groundwater and surface waters every day. Cesspools are an antiquated technology for disposal of untreated sewage that have the potential to pollute groundwater. The State relies on groundwater for over 90% of its drinking water. Cesspools also present a risk of illness to island residents and cause significant harm to streams and coastal resources, including coral reefs.
Legislature has begun to address the serious health and environmental impacts of cesspool pollution. During the 2017 regular session, Act 125 was passed, requiring the replacement of all cesspools by 2050 and directing the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) to, among other tasks, investigate the priority of cesspools Statewide to be upgraded or converted based on each cesspool’s impact on public health.
This report discusses 14 critical areas with high concentrations of cesspools that should receive priority for replacement. Five of these areas are located on Oahu, one on Maui, three on Kauai and five on the Big Island. Each area is assigned a priority level between 1 and 3, level 1 being the highest. Upcountry, Maui and Kahalu'u, Oahu have been rated as priority level 1.
Our team at Laulea hopes that this prioritization helps move along the long process of cesspool upgrades in the State of Hawaii and we look forward to doing our part by providing progressive, collaborative, and reliable engineering solutions. We are always available to provide more information and help with procedures to accomplish cesspool upgrades or conversions.