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Closing the Cesspools

T_R_Oglodyte

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Tamaradarann

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from the Garden Island News:

https://www.thegardenisland.com/2019/10/10/hawaii-news/closing-the-cesspools/

Going after the larger ones is easy. The big issue is cesspools at residences. There are entire communities where almost every single house has its own cesspool. Aggregated together as a single source, these cesspool communities dwarf the impacts of the "large" cesspools.
I agree with you about the larger more difficult problem to solve is the thousands of residences. While Hawaii has about 1.5 million residents many of them live in Apartments or Condominiums which are connected to sewer systems. We live on Long Island in Suffolk County in a single house with a cesspool. Suffolk County has about 1.5 million residents who mostly live in single houses with cesspools. Suffolk County was settled over the last 70 years mostly from people that were escaping from NYC with its densely populated high rise neighborhoods and people wanting large properties with driveways and single family residences. To make the problem more critical all of the portable water in Suffolk County comes from aquifers under those cesspools. Only the deepest aquifer can now be used for portable water since the top 2 have been contaminated. Certain parts of the deepest aquifer has already been contaminated!
 

T_R_Oglodyte

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I agree with you about the larger more difficult problem to solve is the thousands of residences. While Hawaii has about 1.5 million residents many of them live in Apartments or Condominiums which are connected to sewer systems. We live on Long Island in Suffolk County in a single house with a cesspool. Suffolk County has about 1.5 million residents who mostly live in single houses with cesspools. Suffolk County was settled over the last 70 years mostly from people that were escaping from NYC with its densely populated high rise neighborhoods and people wanting large properties with driveways and single family residences. To make the problem more critical all of the portable water in Suffolk County comes from aquifers under those cesspools. Only the deepest aquifer can now be used for portable water since the top 2 have been contaminated. Certain parts of the deepest aquifer has already been contaminated!
I believe that most of Long Island - except for the very oldest houses - was developed using septic tanks and drain fields. Which still led to widespread contamination.

Cesspools are much more primitive - essentially just a hold in the ground, from which liquid seeps into the ground with essentially no treatment. Much of the cesspool removal program involves installing septic tanks and drain fields to replace the cesspools.
 

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It seems that after hundreds of years of dispensing one's waste on top of one's water source, there should be some priority placed on a better, more permanent, solution. The above is (to me anyway) appalling. I realize that when one lives at esentially sea level there's not a lot of 'downhill' to send the waste to.
 

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It seems that after hundreds of years of dispensing one's waste on top of one's water source, there should be some priority placed on a better, more permanent, solution. The above is (to me anyway) appalling. I realize that when one lives at esentially sea level there's not a lot of 'downhill' to send the waste to.
I agree with you that there should be SOME priority on a better more permanent solution. Suffolk County Officials are discussing it all the time. However, beyond some trial waste treatment system funded by some grants nothing has been done. Suffolk County Property Taxes are about 10 times as high as Hawaii property taxes(I am NOT EXAGGERATING) already so the elected officials are very hesitate to raise taxes to do anything about it. The cost for the better waste treatment system is ten's of thousands of dollars for each house so requiring it is also a political problem.

While not the reason that we a relocating to Honolulu, it certainly does alleviate the problem for us.
 

easyrider

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One of the resorts I like in Mexico has a large drain field that overflows and turns into a swamp at times. The water used to smell like rotten eggs but they seemed to have fixed it. It probably now runs right into the ocean.

I always thought that microbs had a hard time of reaching water tables from cess pools and drain fields. If there was a problem why wouldn't a few gallons of bleach be the answer ?

Bill
 

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One of the resorts I like in Mexico has a large drain field that overflows and turns into a swamp at times. The water used to smell like rotten eggs but they seemed to have fixed it. It probably now runs right into the ocean.

I always thought that microbs had a hard time of reaching water tables from cess pools and drain fields. If there was a problem why wouldn't a few gallons of bleach be the answer ?

Bill
Because microbes are good; they consume the organic content in the waste. The biggest problem with cesspools and under-designed septic systems is that the organic load in the waste exceeds the capacity of microorganisms to deal with it without creating problems.
 

Tamaradarann

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One of the resorts I like in Mexico has a large drain field that overflows and turns into a swamp at times. The water used to smell like rotten eggs but they seemed to have fixed it. It probably now runs right into the ocean.

I always thought that microbs had a hard time of reaching water tables from cess pools and drain fields. If there was a problem why wouldn't a few gallons of bleach be the answer ?

Bill
As stated above the microbes do eat the organic waste and break it down to a liquid which then gets disbursed from the cesspool or septic tank. Bleach would kill the microbes so the the organic waste would not be broken down. However, I am not up on how the new and improved waste treatment systems work but perhaps some type of chemical treatment in the final stages is used to prevent the discharge from the system contaminating the portable water. I do know that in addition to the initial cost of the new and improved waste treatment system there is periodic required system maintenance which costs hundreds of dollars per year.
 
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