Public comment sought on groundwater report

The state Department of Health is soliciting public comments until March 30 on its investigation of nitrates in Upcountry groundwater, the department announced.

Health officials have determined there are 7,400 cesspools Upcountry (one of the top areas in the state) that pose a threat of contamination to drinking water. A new state law requires residents to replace them with a septic tank or sewage system hookup by 2050.

The cost of removing each cesspool has been estimated to cost $20,000, which many residents have protested as being unaffordable. The cost to upgrade all of the state’s 88,000 cesspools has been estimated at $1.75 billion.

The Health Department has found two Upcountry wells with elevated levels of nitrates, which are found in fertilizer and sewage. The wells are at Baldwin Ranch Estates and the Pukalani Golf Course.

The department’s report is available at health.hawaii.gov/wastewater/cesspools/. The direct links are health.hawaii.gov/wastewater/files/2018/02/Upcountry_report.pdf and health.hawaii.gov/wastewater/files/2018/Upcountry_appendices.pdf.

The report also is available for viewing at the Maui District Health Office at 54 High St., Room 300, Wailuku 96793. The office’s phone number is 984-8230.

For a copy or link to the document, send email to sdwb@doh.hawaii.gov, a fax to (808) 586-4351 or mail to Safe Drinking Water Branch, Department of Health, 2385 Waimano Home Road, Uluakupu Building. No. 4, Pearl City 96782.

Written comments should be sent to Joanna Seto at the Safe Drinking Water Branch at the above address or email.

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