05 • 05 • 2022
2022 State Legislation Passed to Facilitate Cesspool Upgrades
VICTORY! Provide statewide financial incentives for cesspool upgrades.
In 2022, the Hawaiʻi state legislature passed HB2195, HB2088 and HB1806. These three bills will work in parallel to provide critical financial incentives to homeowners and business owners to upgrade cesspools. HB2195 is a particularly important bill as it represents the first state-based funding for cesspool conversions. Specifically, it establishes a pilot program and provides grants of up to $20,000 to qualifying low and moderate income homeowners for upgrading, converting, or connecting a cesspool that meets certain requirements. HB2088 allows commercial property owners to leverage non-traditional financing programs for cesspool conversions, while HB1806 expands the definition of what qualifies as an upgraded system (and thus provides more options to homeowners).
Hawaii’s 88,000 cesspools are one of the biggest threats to water quality across the state, discharging 53 mgd sewage into coastal waters. In recent years, Surfrider has played a key role in successfully urging the state government to finally move away from relying on these antiquated and ineffective systems for managing household wastewater.
A major challenge is that many of the cesspools in Hawaiʻi are located in remote or low income areas. Upgrades are extremely costly (~$20,000 - $30,000) and not feasible for many current homeowners. Grants and other financial incentives therefore therefore play a key role to increasing the number of cesspools that are upgraded across Hawaiʻi. In addition, per Act 125, all cesspools in Hawaiʻi must be upgraded by 2050. The successful passage of HB2195, HB2088, and HB1806 in 2022 are an important step towards meeting the goal of Act 125 and Surfrider Foundationʻs campaign to reduce the impact of cesspools on water quality in Hawaiʻi.