Hawaii will become the last state in the nation to ban new cesspools after Gov. David Ige announced Friday afternoon that he has signed new wastewater system rules that were proposed by the state Health Department.

“Today’s action banning new cesspools statewide would stop the addition of pollution from approximately 800 new cesspools per year,” the department said in a press release.

“Hawaii has about 88,000 cesspools, far more than any other state,” the release stated. “Cesspools provide no treatment, and inject about 55 million gallons of raw sewage into Hawaii’s groundwater every day, potentially spreading diseases and harming the quality of drinking water supplies and recreational waters.”

New cesspools were already banned on Oahu, but were allowed on most of the Big Island and parts of Maui and Molokai. The ban takes effect 10 days after paperwork is filed with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office.

Just last month, 11 lawmakers sent a letter to Ige asking him not to ban new cesspools. They were mostly neighbor island lawmakers “whose constituents include many rural communities that rely on existing cesspools or the ability to install new ones,” the letter stated.

Governor David Ige press conference DC trip4

In banning new cesspools, Gov. David Ige took action his predecessor, Neil Abercrombie, declined to take.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie declined to approve a new cesspool rules before he left office in 2014. Those proposed rules would not only have banned new cesspools but also would have required property owners to convert existing cesspools to septic tanks within a year of a home or building being sold.

The new rules signed by Ige also implement a 2015 law providing a tax credit of up to $10,000 for cesspools upgraded to sewer or septic system during the next five years, limited to $5 million or about 500 cesspool upgrades per year.

“Owners of cesspools located within 200 feet of the ocean, streams or marsh areas, or near drinking water sources can qualify for the tax credit,” the release stated. “DOH will be issuing forms soon for taxpayers who want to apply for the credit.

About the Author