Big Isle cesspools closing
Hawai'i County will replace large-capacity "gang" cesspools in the old plantation towns of Na'alehu and Pahala with the help of a $1.36 million Environmental Protection Agency grant and matching funds from the state Revolving Fund Loan Program.
The work will result in the closing of the old cesspools and the development of community septic systems that meet federal sewage disposal requirements. The county will operate the new facilities.
"I believe that the county is obligated to help the residents of Pahala and Na'alehu by improving and taking ownership of the sewer system," said Big Island Mayor Harry Kim.
Large-capacity cesspools, defined as those that handle sewage from multiple dwellings or facilities that serve 20 or more people daily, have been prohibited since April 2005.
The Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Health have identified more than 2,400 such cesspools in the state and believe there may be as many as 4,000 in all. About 800 large-capacity cesspools are owned by government.
"EPA continues to encourage large capacity cesspool owners to submit compliance plans," the agency said in a press release.
Generally, the alternatives are hooking up to existing community sewage systems or wastewater package plants, or developing a septic tank system.