Maui News

EPA Enforces Ban on Large Capacity Cesspools at Hāna Resort

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ʻĀlau island located off of the picturesque Hāna shoreline in East Maui. File photo by Wendy Osher.

The Travaasa Hāna Resort is located in East Maui. ʻĀlau island pictured here is located off of the picturesque Hāna shoreline in East Maui. File photo by Wendy Osher.

The US Environmental Protection Agency completed enforcement actions with the Travaasa Hotel Hāna Resort in East Maui for failure to close its large capacity cesspool.  Travaasa will pay a penalty of $187,500.

Enforcement actions were also taken against two other properties in the state including: Vacation Inns International on the North Shore, Oʻahu, and Shaka’s in Pāhoa on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi.

Vacation Inns International was ordered to pay $40,000, and Shaka’s was issued a $82,425 fine.


In addition, EPA has also filed a civil complaint against landowner Keith Ward of Waimanalo for operating two illegal cesspools that serves Serg’s Mexican Kitchen restaurant.

“Cesspools serving resorts and restaurants can pollute the groundwater and nearshore waters where people swim,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest in a statement. “EPA is committed to protecting Hawaii’s precious water resources by closing down all large capacity cesspools.”

Cesspools, which are used more widely in Hawaiʻi than any other state, discharge raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean.


The Travaasa Hotel Hāna Resort, formerly known as the Hotel Hāna Maui, has voluntarily closed a number of its cesspools over the last three years, and has committed to closing its remaining 14 large capacity cesspools within the next two years, replacing them with state-approved septic systems.

The same is true for Vacation Inns International and its six cesspools, located on the North Shore of Oʻahu, a popular destination for surfers from around the world. Shaka’s Pahoa LLC that operates the Pāhoa Café nightclub has closed one cesspool and has another remaining cesspool to close.

Throughout the state of Hawaiʻi, over 3,000 large capacity cesspools have been closed, many through voluntary compliance, since the ban was instituted in 2005.


Large capacity cesspools include those discharging untreated sewage from multiple residential dwellings, and from non-residential locations that have the capacity to serve 20 or more people per day.

The regulations do not apply to single-family homes connected to their own individual cesspools or to non-residential cesspools that do not have the capacity to serve 20 or more people.


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