PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - New weight restrictions for a crumbling North Shore bridge are putting scores of cesspool owners in a bind.
The 15-ton weight limit for Paumalu Stream Bridge means septic vacuum trucks can't cross it to use a dumping station in Kahuku. Instead, they have to travel to Pearl City, and the difference is costing homeowners hundreds of dollars.
The companies in charge of emptying wastewater tanks and cesspools on the North Shore are asking the city to re-open old dumping stations, but the city is ruling that idea out.
Jimmy Sequin, who owns Aqua Pumping, says his trucks are being forced to cover too much ground.
"For us to pump a cesspool, come back here and dump it, drive all the way back for another one, you're talking three to four hours for one cesspool," he said.
That extra time equates to extra money for homeowners.
The Kahuku drop cost North Shore cesspool owners $175. It costs $600 to dump in Pearl City.
On Wednesday, the state started enforcing a strict 15-ton weight limit for the Paumalu Stream Bridge, which has been deteriorating for years. Repairs to the bridge aren't expected to be wrapped up until June.
"Because of this bridge closure we need to get the city to open up a temporary dumpsite," Sequin said.
But he said a closer site than Pearl City is a wastewater drain in Mililani Tech Park.
It was used years ago but was shut down after nearby businesses complained. There was another site near the dog park in Mililani mauka.
"That one never really opened because the community complained about unsightly trucks," Sequin said.
In a statement, city Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina said using those sites is out of the question.
"The Department of Environmental Services has seven designated discharge sites across Oahu for liquid waste haulers to discharge their loads into our sewer system. With the state temporarily prohibiting larger vehicles from crossing the Paumalu Bridge, some haulers have suggested opening additional dump sites in locations such as Whitmore Village and Mililani Tech Park. Unfortunately, Whitmore Village Wastewater Pretreatment Facility cannot handle the additional loads, and discharging into street manholes in the Mililani area would create a health and safety concern and negatively impact residents," she said.
"Therefore, though we empathize with residents affected by the state's temporary bridge restrictions, these suggestions cannot be implemented. The Pearl City and Kaneohe sites remain available for haulers to use during the state's temporary bridge weight restrictions."
Waialua resident Jack Reid worries that most cesspool owners can't afford the more expensive fee and cesspools will overflow.
"It can back up into the home," he said. "Usually in the bathtub or the shower it will start. And then it will start bubbling up in the yard. You will smell it and see it. It doesn't just affect that person it affects their neighbor."
Sequin said North Shore cesspool owners are being held hostage. "They either have to pay triple the cost to dump their sewage or let it overflow," he said.
Aqua Pumping, which works with residential and commercial clients, has turned down or cancelled jobs because of the dumping dilemma.