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Septic System Ownership in Hawaii

Many people dream of living the tranquil, private life on a tropical island, away from the sounds and influence of city life. Yet, many do not realize that often homeowners in remote locations do not have access to a public water treatment center, and require a private septic system instead. Information for homeowners with septic systems in Hawaii is described in this article.

Governing Bodies

The Wastewater Branch of Hawaii's Environmental Management Division oversees the individual wastewater program. It includes three departments: Construction/Operation, Program/Design, and Grant Management. Together, they over the following processes related to septic systems:

  • Plan, design, construction and installation of septic systems;
  • Environmental assessments;
  • Grant awards and loan agreements;
  • Inspections; and
  • Operator certification.

Operator Training and Certification

Wastewater operators in Hawaii must be certified through the Statewide Wastewater Operator Training Center (SWOTC). In Hawaii, homeowners must use licensed professionals for the design and installation of their septic system to insure safe and effective treatment of wastewater.

Review Process

All septic system plans must clear the Planning and Design Section of the Wastewater Branch. The review process includes assembling an application package with the following completed items:

  • Application Form;
  • Construction plans (prepared by a licensed engineer);
  • Site Plan;
  • Floor Plans for the dwelling unit;
  • Owner's Certification Form;
  • Site Evaluation Form;
  • Operation and Maintenance manual;
  • Sludge Disposal Plan; and
  • Maintenance contracts for aerobic units.

Applications for individual wastewater systems are typically reviewed and decided within two weeks of submission.


The Wastewater Branch provides help and support with this process in person or over the phone.

Wastewater Branch -- Environmental Management Division
Hawaii State Department of Health
919 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 309
Honolulu, HI 96814-4920

Phone: (808) 586-4294
Fax: (808) 586-4300

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