Maui News

Neighbor Island Lawmakers Ask Ige Not to Sign Cesspool Rule Change

February 2, 2016, 4:58 PM HST
* Updated February 3, 6:08 AM
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State Capitol building. Photo by Wendy Osher.

State Capitol building. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Nearly a dozen legislators are asking Governor David Ige not to sign off on a proposed state Department of Health rule change that if passed, would ban new cesspools statewide.

A letter, dated Feb. 1, 2016, was supported primarily by neighbor island state representatives and senators whose constituents include many rural communities.  Lawmakers signing off on the letter say their constituents rely on existing cesspools or the ability to install new ones.

The 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 a total of $1.5 billion to convert more than 50,000 cesspools.

The letter states that a bill to do the same thing was introduced into the legislature in 2015 and did not pass.  “In fact,” the letter states, “a bill to ban new cesspools was not passed. The will of the Legislature should thus be clear,” it said.

In the letter lawmakers also claim that the rule change “discriminates” against the poorest citizens who might not be able to afford to build a home if a septic system is required.

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“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 stated.

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

Neighbor island representatives and senators signing the letter include: Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waiheʻe, Waiehu, Puʻuohala, Wailuku, Waikapū), Rep. Mark Nakashima (Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo), Rep. Richard Creagan (Naʻalehu, Ocean View, Capt. Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona), Rep. Richard Onishi (Hilo Keaʻau, Kurtistown, Volcano), Rep. Clift Tsuji (Keaukaha, parts of Hilo, Panaʻewa, Waiakea), Rep. Cindy Evans (North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala), Rep. Angus McKelvey (West Maui, Māʻalaea, North Kīhei), Rep. Kyle Yamashita (Spreckelsville, Pukalani, Makawao, Kula, Keokea, ʻUlupalakua, Kahului), Rep. Lynn DeCoite (Nāhiku, Pāʻia, Kahoʻolawe, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi, Molokini), Senator Russell Ruderman (Puna, Kaʻū), and Senator Lorraine Inouye (Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona).

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