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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023

Pros and cons of a Pāhala sewage treatment plant versus Individual Wastewater Systems for each property
serviced by the old sugar plantation gang cesspool were discussed Thursday at a community meeting led by Brenda 
Iokepa Moses. The County is asking for opinions from the community. Photo by Julia Neal

VOTE FOR A PĀHALA SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANT OR INDIVIDUAL WASTEWATER SYSTEMS IN EACH YARD. County of Hawai‘i asks those with houses on the old sugar plantation wastewater gang cesspool to make a choice. It would be one or the other for everyone affected.
    The county Department of Environmental Management held a meeting Thursday evening at Pāhala Community Center and asked folks to give their opinions. Those who couldn't attend can fill out a survey that was mailed to each affected property owner. Comments can also be sent to codem@hawaiicounty.gov and through https://www.hawaiicounty.gov/departments/environmental-management/pahala-naalehu
    The website offers in-depth information on the project, including communications from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, a Preliminary Engineering Report, detailed descriptions of the options and maps. It also includes information on an Environmental Information Document that will explore the
environmental and cultural impacts on the options.
    Pāhala resident and Deputy Director of county Department of Environmental Management, Brenda Iokepa Moses, reviewed the project and opened it up for public discussion.
Sewer treatment plant or Individual Wastewater Systems? Pāhala
 residents weigh in on which way to go. Map of Pāhala Village
 from County of Hawai‘i Department of Environmental Management
     Pāhala resident Gary Domondon said he was concerned that Individual Wastewater Systems for each property could be a solution for the short term but if a sewer system were built later, homeowners on the IWS could be required to hook up and shut down and seal off their Individual Wastewater Systems at their own expense.
    Another speaker asked whether Individual Wastewater Systems installed in each yard would provide the capacity for homeowners to add bedrooms for growing families or build 'ohana units for kupuna in the future, where setbacks and lot sizes allow it. County representatives said that the maximum would be five total bedrooms per house. Planning for adding bedrooms could require bigger leach fields on the properties and each property owner would be involved in the decision.
      Currently, for houses on the old plantation gang cesspool system, additions are prohibited by the federal government until the county closes down the old system and builds a new sewer plant or installs Individual Wastewater Systems for each house. For houses with individual cesspools, seeking permits for adding bedrooms or other additions can trigger the requirement to build a septic system. 
    Another speaker talked about the cost of a sewage treatment plant versus Individual Wastewater Systems. County officials said the treatment plant could cost some $30 million and IWS around $10 million. It was noted however, that the sewage treatment plant could later be expanded to accommodate some growth in the town and to accommodate the ban that goes into effect in 2050 on some 200 individual cesspools in the newer neighborhoods of Pāhala. 
    Money for the chosen option to treat wastewater that goes into the old plantation system could come from county, federal and possibly state funding. For the individual homeowners, county sewer fees are the same across the island, the cost of constructing and maintaining public wastewater systems spread across the communities.
   The options the Department of Environmental Management presented for the public to consider and vote on are:
    A package sewage treatment plant with new sewer pipes collecting wastewater from the homes and carrying it to the plant in sewer pipes under the streets and other public right of ways.
    A package sewage treatment plant using the old plantation collection system with the old sewer pipes. Several speakers during and after the meeting noted the leaky, poor condition of the pipes.
    County Stewarded Individual Wastewater Systems in each yard with a sewer fee for each homeowner. 
    Homeowner Stewarded Individual Wastewater Systems in each yard with homeowners receiving vouchers and hiring contractors, with county overseeing compliance. There would be no sewer fees and owners would be responsible for pumping the septic tanks, perhaps every five years.
    Concerning the Individual Wastewater System option, several speakers during and after the meeting asked about the differences in disturbance to yards between having a sewer pipe to the road and an Individual Wastewater system with leach field. Would the county be responsible for replacing unpermitted structures like garages, cottages, workshops, dog kennels and warehouses where land underneath them would be needed for leach fields to accommodate the Individual Wastewater Systems? A county attorney said the county could not rebuild or pay to rebuild unpermitted structures but could replace such improvements as a rock wall.
    Another option in the county's quest for public opinion allows homeowners to say they don't have enough information to make a choice. They can send questions to the county on the back of the questionnaire sent to each affected homeowner or email codem@hawaiicounty.gov.
    The county website for the project is https://www.hawaiicounty.gov/departments/environmental-management/pahala-naalehu.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands.

NĀ‘ĀLEHU FLOOD CONTROL WATERSHED PROJECT received its annual inspection recently by Kaʻū Soil & Water Conservation District, state Department of Transportation and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
    The Nāʻālehu flood control structure, developed in the mid-1960s is located behind Punalu‘u Bake Shop off Ka‘alaiki Road and makes its way down the slope, exiting below Nāʻālehu subdivision and  Nāʻālehu Park makai of Highway 11. The flood control infrastructure consists of a concrete chute, debris basin, reinforced concrete-lined channel, transition section and 840 feet of unlined channel.
    The flood channel was constructed to convey floodwaters through the village of Nāʻālehu to a disposal area on the porous lava formations in the rangelands. Before the watershed project was completed, flash flooding devastated Nāʻālehu. A statement from Kaʻū Soil & Water Conservation District said:
    "This project not only protects the homes, in the community, it prevents oil erosion and
washing out of agricultural crops and infrastructure important to the farming and ranching community of Kaʻū. Today, we conduct annual inspections of the project, reassuring the community of its safety. We ask all to be mindful of where they dispose of their trash, green waste cuttings, logs, dead animals, animal waste products, and any other waste.
    "These types of unlawful dumping in any intermittent waterway, gulch or stream, will likely cause obstruction in the watercourse and could potentially accumulate at culverts and bridges, resulting in the clogging of these water control structures, preventing the natural water flow and resulting in flooding and erosion.
    "We would like to thank the County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works Highways Division, USDA NRCS, and the Kaʻū SWCD directors and staff for their dedication, support and annual operations and maintenance of this watershed project."
    For more information, call Jennifer Lopez Reavis, Ka‘ū Soil & Water Conservation Service at 808-933-8350.

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HPD ARRESTED 13 FOR DUI from Sept. 18 - 24. Hawai‘i Island police arrested 13 motorists for driving under the influence of an intoxicant. Four of the drivers were involved in a traffic collision. None of the drivers were under the age of 21.
    So far this year, there have been 705 DUI arrests compared with 737 during the same period last year, a decrease of 4.3 percent.

    Hawai‘i Police Department’s Traffic Services Section reviewed all updated crashes and found 604 major collisions so far this year compared with 601 during the same period last year, an increase of 0.50 percent.
    To date, there have been 12 fatal crashes, resulting in 13 fatalities, (one of which had multiple deaths); compared with 24 fatal crashes, resulting in 26 fatalities (one of which had multiple deaths, and one was reclassified to a medical condition) for the same time last year. This represents a decrease of 50 percent for fatal crashes and 50 percent for fatalities.
    To date, the non-traffic fatality count (not on a public roadway) so far this year is one compared to zero non-traffic fatalities for the same time last year. Police promise that DUI roadblocks and patrols will continue island-wide.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands.

Trojans continued a perfect season for Girls Volleyball on Wednesday,
 winning its eighth straight  match. Scoreboard by Jen Makuakane
TROJANS GIRLS VARSITY VOLLEYBALL REMAINS UNDEFEATED for the season, winning all eight of its matches with only three left on the schedule. 
     Trojans posted another win on Wednesday at home against Kanu O Kai ‘Aina in three sets, 25-9, 25-5 and 25-5. Kaʻū Trojans beat Christian Liberty Academy on Monday, 25-17, 25-7, and 25-15. Trojans beat Hawai'i Preparatory Academy last Saturday, 28-26, 18-25, 25-23 and 25-16. JV lost to HPA 17-25 and 15-25.
    On Sept. 16, Kaʻū beat Parker 25-21, 23-25, 25-11 and 25-18. On Sept. 13, Trojans defeated Makua Lani, 25-9, 25-10 and 25 -11. On Sept. 11, Kaʻū beat Kohala 25-14, 25-15 and 25-18.
    On Sept. 8, Kaʻū beat Lapahoehoe 25-7, 25-6 and 25-4. On Aug. 30. Kaʻū  beat Pahoa 25-11, 25-10 and 25-20.
    The next match is at St. Joseph's in Hilo at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, followed by the last home game, playing Ka Umeke Ka'eo Charter School on Wednesday, Oct. 11. The final match is at Honoka'a on Friday, Oct. 13.