Faced with the economic downturn of the local economy with the coronavirus pandemic, it is imperative that Hawai‘i reflects on the past to turn the current situation to our advantage with win-win solutions. We have the opportunity to create and promote jobs that benefit Hawai‘i’s water quality and economy on the whole, not just tourism.
One of the solutions to stabilize the economy and create jobs would also protect the public health, environment, and Hawai‘i’s waters. We propose to jumpstart the cesspool conversion process by creating 400 shovel-ready projects across the state. The goal is to replace 100 of the worst cesspools in the top priority areas in O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i, and the island of Hawai‘i. This would make an impact towards fulfilling the cesspool conversion mandate to update over 88,000 cesspools in Hawai‘i by 2050, and perhaps alleviate future Environmental Protection Agency penalties.
This proposal encompassed months of brainstorming to address urgent needs and long-term goals, with input and expertise from Stuart Coleman (Executive Director and Co-Founder of the non-profit Wastewater Alternatives & Innovations [WAI]), Elizabeth Benyshek (WAI), Roger Babcock (University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa [UHM]), Rachel Solemsaas (HCC), Michael Mezzacapo (UHM), and Thomas Giambelluca (UHM). Contributions were also made by Sea Grant College Program (UHM), UH Community Colleges, and the Wastewater Branch of the Hawai‘i State Department of Health.
Mr. Coleman has a Civil Beat article that further discusses Hawai‘i’s cesspool problem at: https://www.civilbeat.org/2020/07/how-hawaii-can-lead-in-wastewater-management/