Trouble in Paradise - The Ongoing Struggle to Address Cesspool Systems in Hawaii (WWETT Show 2023)

March 23, 2023

Hawaii has some 88,000 cesspools across the state. Half of the state’s cesspools — 49,300 — are on Rep. Kahele’s (since declared he is leaving Congress to run as HI Governor) home island, Hawaii island. Kauai has 13,700, Maui County has 13,640 and Oahu has 11,300.  As Kahele notes, “The county of Hawaii has been in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act and EPA federal rules and regulations since 2010 when the county took over responsibility of the large capacity cesspools at Pahala and Naalehu.” In the face of these federal regulations, what should the counties do — go with the old, expensive sewer systems or find a new and cheaper technology?

According to Rep. Kahele: “When Sen. Chris Lee and I attended the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Reinvented Toilet Expo in 2018, we began to realize that our current sewer system is not the answer. These systems served a purpose once, but now they are the definition of a vicious cycle: We use clean drinking water to flush our toilets, then expend massive amounts of energy and miles of sewer lines to pump that waste across the Island to municipal wastewater treatment plants, which require even more energy to separate the liquids from the solids; and in the end, we pump the clean water out to sea and truck the sludge waste to landfills that are already full.”  Source.

Learning Objectives:

1. Identify the issues of the 2017 legislation mandating the conversion of all cesspools by 2050 by passing Act 125

2. Discuss the conversion of all cesspools in the state within the next 30 years               

3. Identify cost efficient options

4. Reimagine the whole sanitation system

Speakers: Dendra Best, Executive Director at WasteWater Education 501c3; Lauren Roth Venu, Principal at Roth Ecological Design Int. LLC

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