Richard Ha writes:
If you own your home and it has a cesspool, be aware that you may have to upgrade to a septic system. There will be new requirements for farms, too, but we don’t know yet what the new requirements might be.
An alert from the Hawaii Association of Realtors:
DOH Proposes to End Approving New Cesspools and Require Upgrade to Septic at Point of Sale
There will be a public hearing on October 2, 2014, at 10 a.m. where the Department of Health will explain proposed amendments to the Hawaii Administrative Rules for the Clean Water, Safe Drinking Water, and Wastewater Branches. These changes to the Wastewater rules include an end to approving new cesspools for construction and provisions to upgrade existing cesspools to septic systems upon the sale of property.
You can find the proposed changes and the rationale for these changes to Ch. 11-62 for the Wastewater Branch on its website.
Some proposed provisions:
- Proposing new language that requires upon sale of any building served by an existing cesspool, the building, no later than one hundred and eighty days after ownership transfer, shall be connected to a sewer or, where a sewer connection is not feasible, the cesspool shall be replaced with a new wastewater system, other than a cesspool.
- Requires the owner of a commercial or shopping center to upgrade their wastewater system when they have a new tenant that opens a restaurant.
- Imposes new requirements for farms.
The present rules allow for an exemption from a private wastewater treatment facility if the proposed subdivision is no more than 50 lots. After 50 lots, a private sewage treatment plant will be required. The new rules change the exemption to 15 lots. This is totally unreasonable as there is no way to amortize such a huge expense under so few lots. This virtually rules out subdivisions in the 16-50 lot size.
Some of the unintended consequences of the above are lenders will not want to lend on properties subject to conversion or the outcome will likely be that the cost will be born onto the Buyers in the way of higher housing costs. The argument by the Department of Health that Buyers and Sellers will not be adversely affected during the transaction is false speculation and truly misunderstands the real estate industry.
This issue is very important to Hawaii REALTORS® and their clients. HAR believes it is unfair for the government to mandate that a property owner upgrade at the point of sale when the cesspool system was built using DOH standards and approved in writing by the DOH. These cesspools should be grandfathered.
The Hawaii Association of REALTORS® has been discussing this issue in coordination with the Local Boards and will proceed in a coordinated effort, which may include a membership Call-for-Action.
There is an estimated cesspool residential property count of 50,000 on Hawaii, 14,000 on Kauai, 12,000 on Maui, 11,000 on Oahu, and 1,400 on Molokai.