Council to discuss funds for Ka‘u sewer systems

Bill Kucharski

The Hawaii County Council will take up requests to borrow $37 million for two wastewater treatment projects in Ka‘u at a Finance Committee meeting next week.

The money from the state Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund will cover about half of the anticipated costs of both projects, estimated at about $70 million.


The funds will go toward planning and design of the Na‘alehu wastewater system ($10 million) and design and construction for the Pahala project ($37 million).

The separate sewer systems are being built to replace large-capacity cesspools in both communities.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandates the closure of these systems, which the county inherited from C. Brewer, in Pahala by 2021 and Na‘alehu by 2022.

An environmental review of the Pahala project was expected to be finalized earlier this year.

Bill Kucharski, county Environmental Management director, said the assessment remains under review by the state Division of Historic Preservation.

“We can’t move forward until we have a 106 clearance,” he said.

Kucharski said a draft environmental assessment for the project in Na‘alehu should be ready for public comment in October, rather than June as previously anticipated. He said the delay was due to “internal contracting requirements.”

The Na‘alehu project will connect about 163 parcels using the large-capacity cesspools, in addition to at least another 30 properties that will be required to connect because they will border the sewer lines.

In Pahala, 109 parcels on large-capacity cesspools will be connected in addition to at least 65 others.

Homes using large-capacity cesspools won’t have to pay for their connection, but others will have to foot the bill.

Kucharski said the county continues to look for ways to help them with financing, including federal grant and loan programs.

The Finance Committee meets Monday at the Hilo county building.

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