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Cesspool to Septic Tank Conversion in Hawaii

This blog is all about cesspool’s and septic tanks in Hawaii and my experience switching over.

cesspool to Septic

Recently (2022) I converted my cesspool to a septic tank. Supposedly this will be a mandatory requirement in Hawaii by 2050. You can read more about that here. I decided to switch over for a few reasons. The main one being that the walls of my cesspool were slowly collapsing. However still fully functioning. When I first moved in I noticed a whole in the yard and over the time of 3 years I noticed 2 other holes. My cesspool was built around 1952 so understandably it was probably worth replacing then repairing.

Here are the steps, approximate costs, and my personal experience of my cesspool to septic conversion.

Converting your Cesspool to a Septic Tank

Step 1 – Hiring an Engineer

An engineer has to be hired to look at your property and do a site evaluation, the plans for your septic tank and a percolation test. The engineer that I used Lox Hawaii did a few other things for me like running the plans through the state to get approved, etc. The cost for that was around $2,600.00.

These plans are needed so your contractor knows what kind of supplies to order and what to do when building your septic tank.

Step 2 – Looking for a Contractor

This was probably the hardest part. Once you get your plans from the engineer you can start getting quotes from contractors. Honestly, I just went with the first person who gave me the time of day. I was happy with them and my boyfriend’s family ended up knowing them so I didn’t bother to shop around for anyone else.

I went with Pipe Works – Elvis Aviguetero. He was recommended to me by a plumber.

What my plans called for …

  • 5 bedroom septic tank which is the biggest you can go on Kauai. There are smaller septic tanks that probably are cheaper.
  • Leach field – Because my property is 18,000 sq. ft. there is space for a leach field vs. smaller properties I believe may have to use their old cesspool as the leach field.
  • Abandoning my cesspools – We later found out that I have 2 cesspools. Abandoning them consisted of pumping out the sewer, breaking open the concrete cap and filling them with rocks. This was an added expense vs. having one cesspool.

The construction cost ended up being $43,000! So total I spent about $$45,600.

Step 3 – Contractor starts working

The experience of having someone digging up my front yard was not as bad as I expected. I could use my cesspool everyday. There was a 30 minute period where the contractor was hooking up the septic tank where I couldn’t use the water. Aside from finding the extra cesspool there was no other major hiccups.

I paid the contractor 50% before starting then the other 50% when the work was completed. That is pretty standard on Kauai.

Over all thoughts & Septic help for you!

Overall I am happy that I converted. Mainly because I’m a super paranoid mother and would get so nervous when my 2 year old was playing by the holes. When they took off the cesspool cap there were hundreds of large roaches roaming around inside  . They were probably going in and out of the holes! Once in a while I would catch one in our home and I haven’t seen large roaches around since! (well so far).

Right now there is assistance of $10,000 income tax credit if your property is in a high risk area. See this link.

Supposedly there will be more assistance however I can’t find any information online about it right now. If you meet the income guidelines the state is paying up to $20,000 towards your conversion. So that means you only have to pay for the remaining $20,000! Lol. For any cesspool to septic conversion.

There are a few reasons for updating your cesspool to a septic tank now. #1. The county of Kauai will make you upgrade if you need to pull a building permit for anything. #2. It was expensive now but with inflation I see it getting more expensive in the future. #3. Many old cesspools can be failing or caving in. My recommendation is to convert ASAP before the 2050 rush.


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