The leaders of the Honolulu and Kauai Board of Realtors said that a proposal to eliminate residential cesspools in Hawaii may have good intentions, but it would have unintended consequences.
Both Jack Legal, president-elect of the Honolulu Board of Realtors, and Karen Ono, executive director of the Kauai Board of Realtors, said that while they are not opposed to the Clean Water Act, the Hawaii State Department of Health could stymie home sales if it decides that rural new homeowners must replace their cesspools with septic tanks, which can cost cost up to $10,000 or more to install.
The DOH is proposing that new homeowners have 180 days from the date of sale to replace cesspools with septic tanks.
Ono said that could add thousands of dollars to the costs of the home, and both Ono and Legal say that mortgage companies would be less likely to approve a loan for a home that would need a new septic tank.
Legal said the new rules would discourage both the seller and the buyer.
The new rules would affect 77,000 homeowners on Neighbor Islands, and 11,000 on Oahu, including to Thelma Dreyer, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Senate.
The proposal would also require new developments that have at least 15 lots to have septic tanks or sewer systems. That number is now 50, Ono said.
In a letter to the state Department of Health, Sen. Rosalyn Baker, who represents parts of Maui, said the proposed 180 days for homeowners to make the change to septic tanks fails to consider issues they may encounter for things such as permits and whether landowners would be able to connect with the county system.
Baker wrote that the DOH says that while there are now now almost 90,000 cesspools, with 50,000 on the Big Island, 14,000 on Kauai, 12,000 on Maui, 11,000 on Oahu and 1,400 on Molokai, but the DOH planned only one public hearing on the proposed changes, on Oahu, although it was videoconferenced to Neighbor Islands.
“It is unfortunate that DOH has chosen to pursue changing its administrative rules without seeking meaningful input from the landowners and communities most affected,” Baker wrote.
But now, the Department of Health said that it would hold meetings on Neighbor Islands and extend the public comment period through Oct. 17.
Bill Cresenzo Reporter – Pacific Business News