© 2023 Hawaiʻi Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

DOH wants to reimburse cesspool owners for upgrades with new pilot program

septic tank cesspool replacement.jpg
Andy Rogers

The state Department of Health wants to award residents with reimbursements to help them upgrade their cesspools.

Act 125 mandates all cesspools be upgraded by the year 2050 to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements. To meet that goal, residents can earn up to $20,000 in reimbursements to upgrade their cesspool or connect to a sewer system.

The DOH plans to distribute a total of $5 million on a first-come, first-serve basis for the program.

The average cost for homeowners to upgrade their cesspool to a septic tank, aerobic treatment unit or sewer can sit anywhere between $10,000 to $50,000.

DOH said they recognize that some low-income families can't dish out thousands of dollars for cesspool upgrades. So in order to be eligible for this program, applicants' household income shall not exceed 140% of the Area Median Income.

The property must also be on priority level one or two areas as determined by the Cesspool Conversion Working Group. Cesspools in these areas have the highest public health and environmental impact risk.

“This is truly an exciting program that will go a long way to help qualified applicants and, in turn, provide a healthier environment for future generations. I strongly recommend eligible households apply," said Kathleen Ho, the DOH's deputy director for environmental health.

Applications will be available at any DOH office on March 15, as well as on the department's website.

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
Related Stories