Hawaii congressman secures $50M to address state’s cesspools and wastewater systems

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — More funding may be coming to the state’s domestic wastewater systems as household cesspools continue to plague rural Hawaii.

The Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021, a bipartisan bill championed by Hawaii Congressman Kaialiʻi (Kai) Kahele, would authorize $50 billion in direct infrastructure investment over the next five years to address America’s crumbling wastewater infrastructure and local water quality challenges.

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Of that amount, $50 million would aid Hawaii’s domestic wastewater systems.

“The current state of  Hawaii’s infrastructure and wastewater systems threatens the health of our people, our land and our oceans. We have to act now to modernize our aging infrastructure by scaling up and implementing successful programs particularly in rural areas,” said Congressman Kahele. “I thank the committee for approving my request for $50 million through the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act to address the roughly 88,000 cesspools that contaminate Hawaii’s drinking water, erode our coral reefs and threaten our coastal ecosystem.”

The Hawaii Department of Health has estimated that Hawaii’s cesspools release approximately 53 million gallons of untreated sewage into the environment each day.

In 2017, the state enacted Act 125 which would prohibit nearly all cesspools throughout the State by the year 2050. The Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 renews funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, which serves as the primary source of federal assistance for wastewater  infrastructure construction.

The bill passed through the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and awaits a vote on the House Floor.

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