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Priorities of the county’s forthcoming cesspool replacement programing

LIHU‘E — There are seven priorities folded into a new cesspool-replacement program on Kaua‘i established by a freshly passed Kaua‘i County Council bill to determine who may get the funding.

The state Department of Health Clean Water State Revolving Fund has $1.2 million to give to counties for cesspool conversion. Kaua‘i County is the only island currently setting up a program for the 2023 fiscal year, meaning it could get the full amount.

In one estimate, this money would be enough to fund between 30 and 40 conversions, which would need to be completed before the end of June 2023. On Kaua‘i, there are nearly 14,000 properties with cesspools that need to be converted by 2050, per a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandate.

Because of the anticipated high demand associated with the program, the bill establishes a priority structure to determine which applicants will receive funding, including the following:

• Properites located outside of Visitor Destination Areas with an existing building permit application for an additional dwelling unit, additonal rental unit or guest house;

• Properties in Kapa‘a/Wailua, Po‘ipu/Koloa and Hanalei Bay areas, as determined by a 2017 cesspool report done by the DOH;

• Households earning no more than 120% of the area median income;

• Properties with a homeowner’s exemption;

• Properties with a residental real-property-tax cassification;

• Properties located outside of the county’s sewer-expansion area;

• Properties with failing cesspools.

The bill, introduced by Council Vice Chair Mason Chock and Councilmember Luke Evslin, was additionally amended by Councilmember Billy DeCosta to meet failing-cesspool needs.

The program requires participation from interested homeowners, contractors and government agencies. The bill prioritizes properties that have an existing or approved building plan for additional dwelling units (ADU), additional rental units (ARU) or guest houses.

The program will run through the County Housing Agency.

The council has budgeted approximately $80,000 to cover administrative costs for the program, and projects that the full cost will be between $100,000 to $150,000.

“Council has provided some preliminary funding to get this program off the ground,” said Adam Roversi, CHA director.

“We’re internally reviewing what staff capacity we have to start implementing right away. We’re having discussions internally about whether we’re going to seek an outside nonprofit partner to handle the administration of this program, as opposed to bring on additional staff to try to run it internally,” Roversi said.

There may be more administrative costs requested in the future. The county will need to go through a request for proposal process to find engineering firms and contractors.

After all this, the “ballpark” timeline to get preliminary applications would be January 2022. The county would not get the DOH funding until next fiscal year.

Bill No. 2837, which passed unamiously at Wednesday’s council meeting, will need the signature of Mayor Derek Kawakami before becoming law.

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Sabrina Bodon, editor, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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