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Department of Health Proposed Cesspool Rules on Kauai

The Department of Health (DOH) is proposing new cesspool rules on Kauai for homes and businesses. These rules would be:

  1. No installing new cesspools.
  2. Upon the sale of property a cesspool must be converted to a septic within 180 days.

Installing a new septic would cost around $15,000. Most buyers don’t have $15,000 to spend for a new septic. Buyers doing USDA, VA, or FHA financing could be especially affected by these rules.

Sellers with cesspools will be affected also. Buyers might rule out the property due to the septic costs.

According to the DOH there are 14,000 cesspools on Kauai. It was also stated in the Garden Island Newspaper that out of the 156 homes that sold this year under $500,000, 95 of those homes has a cesspool.

The reason for DOH proposing these new rules are to protect our ground water and oceans from contamination. In my opinion the 2nd rule seems a bit drastic. Especially since there are probably a lot of cesspools on Kauai that work and are far enough away from our beaches and underground drinking water.

A public hearing was held on Kauai on October 6, 2014 at the Kauai District Health Office. For more information visit



Proposed Cesspool Rules Update Dec. 2014:

After reading 230 public comments about the proposed cesspool rules in Hawaii the Department of Health has updated their proposed rules. Now DOH is requiring cesspools to convert to septic’s that are near public drinking water wells, within 750 ft. from the shoreline, stream or wetland (proposed rules no timeline yet).

There are 19,793 cesspools in Hawaii that will have to be updated compared to originally 88,000. DOH will offer grants to those who qualify to install a septic and 2% interest loans for those homes of higher income.

Fast forward 3 years later ~ 2017  – updated (12/20/17)

The proposed rules from the State Department of Health did not happen regarding making it mandatory to convert a cesspool to a septic upon 180 days after a sale.

I’ve read and heard that it will be mandatory to switch from cesspool to septic 30 years from now. Read my summary of the latest article that came out from the Garden Island Newspaper on this topic here.

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