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Kahele Secures $50 Million to Address Cesspools and Wastewater Systems

June 9, 2021

Fact Sheet | Section by Section | Bill Text

HONOLULU, HI – Today, Congressman Kaialiʻi Kahele (HI-02), a member of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, successfully championed a measure to secure $50 million to invest in domestic wastewater systems, prioritizing household cesspools – a rampant problem across rural Hawaiʻi. The Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021, a bipartisan bill, would authorize $50 billion in direct infrastructure investment over the next five years to address America’s crumbling wastewater infrastructure and local water quality challenges. The bill passed through the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure today and awaits a vote on the House Floor. Watch Congressman Kahele’s remarks delivered in committee in support of the legislation by clicking here or the image below.

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“The current state of  Hawaiʻi’s infrastructure and wastewater systems threatens the health of our people, our land and our oceans. We have to act now to modernize our aging infrastructure by scaling up and implementing successful programs particularly in rural areas,” said Congressman Kahele. “I thank the committee for approving my request for $50 million through the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act to address the roughly 88,000 cesspools that contaminate Hawaiʻi’s drinking water, erode our coral reefs and threaten our coastal ecosystem. As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this bill through Congress and get it to the President’s desk, because investing in Hawaiʻi’s clean water infrastructure can’t wait.”

The Hawaiʻi Department of Health has estimated that Hawaiʻi’s cesspools release approximately 53 million gallons of untreated sewage into the environment each day. In 2017 the State of Hawaiʻi enacted Act 125 which would prohibit nearly all cesspools throughout the State by the year 2050. The Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 renews funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program – the primary source of federal assistance for wastewater infrastructure construction, to establish a new clean water grant to invest in communities with failing septic systems. In addition, this new grant will prioritize funding to communities that lack access to adequate sewage treatment systems. 

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