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Posted: Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 1:21 PM HST

Big Island effort targets cesspools to save reef

By Associated Press

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) A Big Island biologist is trying to convince fellow residents in the coastal town of Puako to replace their aging cesspools to protect nearby coral reef.

Phil Hayward told West Hawaii Today he's found a link between the deteriorating health of Puako's reefs and cesspools.

A University of Hawaii at Hilo analysis of algae samples Hayward and a reef ecologist collected at Puako last fall found high levels of a nitrogen isotope that is a tracer of wastewater.

The state Department of Health estimates there are 55 cesspools among the 150 properties at Puako Beach Lots.

Hayward is leading an effort to help homeowners replace cesspools and failing septic systems with aerobic treatment units. Hayward says these units are a cleaner, smarter and greener way to dispose of sewage.

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