- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) - Kauai real estate agents are opposing proposed new statewide rules regulating cesspools.

The state Department of Health wants to prohibit the installation of new cesspools. It also wants to require property owners to either connect to a sewer system or install a septic system within 180 days after a property sells.

The Kauai Board of Realtors said the cost of installing such upgrades would adversely affect buyers and sellers, the Garden Island newspaper (https://bit.ly/1ubybVf) reported.

Lee Morey, president of the Kauai Board of Realtors, said she has been encouraging homeowners to read the proposed changes and comment to the department. A new septic system is costly and not easy to finance, she said.

“If seller even had the ability to install a new wastewater system, a $15,000 to $25,000 cost in many cases could make the difference in breaking even on a sale or having a short sale,” the board’s press release said.

This year on Kauai, 156 homes have sold under $500,000. Of these, 95 were on cesspools.

Sina Pruder, the Department of Health’s wastewater branch chief, said the proposed rule changes adopt the same requirements that other states already use to upgrade existing cesspools.

The changes are needed to protect the environment, she said.

Cesspool designs vary, but most are deep holes where untreated waste is allowed to leach out naturally. Runoff from many cesspools may back up and pollute waterways during high water incidents.

Pruder estimates that these cesspools release as much as 23,700 pounds of nitrogen and nearly 6,000 pounds of phosphorus into the ground each day.

“This can degrade water quality, stimulate undesirable algae growth and impact our coral reefs,” Pruder said.

There are about 90,000 cesspools in Hawaii. Nearly 14,000 are on Kauai.

The proposal is available online at www.health.hawaii.gov/wastewater/home/public_notice .

The department is accepting written comments on the proposals through Oct. 17. It has scheduled a public meeting on Oahu on Thursday, followed by meetings on neighbor islands over the next two weeks.


Information from: The Garden Island, https://thegardenisland.com/

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