STAND. COM. REP. NO. 694
RE: S.B. No. 221
Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi
President of the Senate
Thirtieth State Legislature
Regular Session of 2019
State of Hawaii
Your Committee on Agriculture and Environment, to which was referred S.B. No. 221 entitled:
"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO CESSPOOLS,"
begs leave to report as follows:
The purpose and intent of this measure is to establish a low interest loan program to offer financial assistance to cesspool owners who upgrade or convert their cesspools to septic systems or aerobic treatment unit systems, or who connect their systems to existing sewer systems or any other wastewater treatment systems approved by the Department of Health.
Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from the County of Hawaii Office of the Mayor, City and County of Honolulu Department of Environmental Services, O‘ahu County Committee on Legislative Priorities of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i, Surfrider Foundation Hawaii Chapters, and six individuals. Your Committee received comments on this measure from the Department of Health and City and County of Honolulu Board of Water Supply.
Your Committee finds that the State's groundwater is being harmed by nonpoint contamination sources that flow directly off the land, rather than through pipes or ditches. Cesspools are a nonpoint contamination source of great concern. These substandard systems are essentially holes in the ground that do not treat wastewater but merely dispose of it.
Your Committee further finds that there are approximately eighty-eight thousand cesspools in the State that collectively release more than fifty-three million gallons of untreated sewage into the ground each day. Hawaii relies on groundwater for ninety percent of its drinking water.
Your Committee also finds that in 2017, legislation was enacted requiring all cesspools not excluded by the Director of Health to be upgraded or converted to septic systems or aerobic treatment unit systems, or connected to sewage systems by January 1, 2050. Your Committee finds that safe drinking water is an urgent matter and this measure will help prevent further contamination by providing financial assistance to landowners to fulfill the mandate of the 2017 legislation by, or even before, the 2050 deadline.
Your Committee has amended this measure by deleting language that would have allowed the loan program to include the option of on-bill financing supported by the water pollution control revolving fund because on-bill financing is beyond the City and County of Honolulu Board of Water Supply's expertise and scope of work.
However, your Committee notes that on-bill financing can help more people receive financing and that the source of an on-bill financing component of the loan program should be further researched for feasibility and possible reincorporation into this measure.
As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Agriculture and Environment that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 221, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 221, S.D. 1, and be placed on the calendar for Third Reading.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Agriculture and Environment,
MIKE GABBARD, Chair