Hawaii’s cesspools pose a problem for the beaches and coral reefs

Seepage from Hawaii 88,000 cesspools may be ruining its idyllic beaches, according to reports.


If you heard that an AMERICAN state, has a problem with thousands of cesspools filled with untreated human waste, would make Hawaii the first?

Brace for the rough, hidden reality of the Aloha State.

It seems that Hawaii has about 88,000 such cesspools, and the seeping sewage is a real threat to the beaches, coral reefs, and drinking water, reports The Wall Street Journal.

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Specifically, health authorities are concerned about the rising nitrate levels in the groundwater, which is approaching or already over the legal limit in parts of the state. “In addition, cesspool effluent contains nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which may disrupt the fragile ecosystems of Hawaii,” according to the ministry of health report cited by the

So why the cesspools? Much of Hawaii is mountainous, making it difficult and costly to lay sewer pipes. As a result, many houses have long pumped their wastewater into cesspools, a solution increasingly difficult as the population grows. The state has forbidden the creation of new cesspools, but the substitution of those already in existence would cost an estimated $1.75 billion, per state health officials.

It is the ministry of health has said that the rising level of nitrate linked to the cesspools, as well as nitrogen and phosphorus, which “can disrupt the fragile ecosystems of Hawaii.”


Lawmakers are reaching engineers for the help, if the problem takes a more and more tangible toll. Around Kahaluu Bay, for example, “skin infections, in accordance with wastewater, contaminated surface water are described in this area,” says the ministry of health. (Another apparent safety risk in Hawaii: snorkeling masks.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: “Idyllic Hawaii Has a Gross Problem.”

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