Wednesday | December 13, 2017
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County weighs eminent domain to get parcel for wastewater plant

Hawaii County is looking to acquire land for a wastewater treatment plant in Pahala through eminent domain.

Kamehameha Schools owns the 42.5-acre parcel located between Highway 11 and Maile Street. The land is assessed at $285,000 and is leased for a macadamia nut orchard, according to the county’s property tax records.

The County Council’s Finance Committee will consider a resolution authorizing the eminent domain action during its Monday meeting. The resolution would require an additional vote at a regular council meeting.

The county is under a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency order to close gang cesspools in Pahala and Naalehu.

A separate wastewater treatment plant would be built for each community.

Bill Kucharski, county Environmental Management director, said the Pahala treatment plant is expected to be complete by 2020. The Naalehu facility would follow in 2022.

He said the county is planning to build the Pahala treatment plant first so it doesn’t lose $1.8 million in federal funds set aside for its construction. Earlier this year, the county estimated it costing $7.2 million with the Naalehu facility costing $14 million.

The large-capacity cesspools serve 109 homes in Pahala and 163 homes in Naalehu. Additionally, a cesspool for the Pahala Elderly Apartments will be converted to a septic system.

Kucharski said the plan is to use an anaerobic system at the two treatment plants, similar to what’s used in Kealakehe.

The EPA says the large-capacity cesspools are a violation of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act adopted in 2005.

The county and EPA agreed to a new consent order earlier this year that sets out the timeline for construction of the new facilities.

Kamehameha Schools said in a statement, “We are assessing the ramifications and impact that a potential eminent domain action will have on these lands given the responsibilities we have to our farmer lessee and our trust obligations to benefit the education of Native Hawaiian children.”

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