The State of Hawai’i has approximately 90,000 cesspools, with nearly 50,000 on the Big Island, almost 14,000 on Kaua’i, over 12,000 on Maui, over 11,000 on O’ahu and over 1,400 on Molokai. Recognizing the public health and ecological impacts Governor David Ige approved Act 132 in July 2018. Among other things, the Act established a cesspool conversion working group (CCWG) responsible for developing a comprehensive plan for statewide conversion by 2050.
Through the CCWG, the Hawai’i State Department of Health Clean Water Branch engaged a consulting team, including Harris & Associates, to examine financing issues and the feasibility of various mechanisms, such as grants and point-of-sale options, to fund the conversion.
As a first step, Harris investigated viable funding options for converting cesspools to on-site wastewater treatment technologies in the State. This effort included analyzing affordability issues, such as the costs of conversion relative to typical wastewater bills from the standpoint of median household income by zip codes for the entire state. The consulting team, including Harris, presented the team’s findings and recommendations to the CCWG and drafted technical memos for consideration by the State legislature.
Harris prepared comprehensive analyses based on our state-wide water and wastewater funding experience, to guide decision-makers on future cesspool funding solutions.
Beyond the Blueprints
Throughout the project, Harris leveraged local knowledge of stakeholder concerns regarding wastewater rates to produce presentation materials that resonated with advisory group members. The team also applied broad consideration of local economic drivers to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of funding sources and impacts to homeowners.