Maui News

EPA Enforcing Closure of 12 Big Island Cesspools

March 9, 2020, 12:32 PM HST
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Maui Now graphic.

The US Environmental Protection Agency is taking enforcement actions on the Big Island to close a dozen large-capacity cesspools and implement $144,696 in fines.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA banned large-capacity cesspools in 2005.

“Large-capacity cesspools can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “EPA will continue our efforts to identify and take enforcement actions to close the remaining large capacity cesspools in Hawaiʻi.”

According to the EPA, inspectors identified multi-unit residential buildings that they say are illegally discharging wastewater into 11 cesspools in Kealakekua, Hawaiʻi. The cesspools will be replaced with compliant systems. The owner, K. Oue, Limited, has agreed to pay a $88,545 penalty and close all 11 LCCs.

In addition, the EPA says Group Investments LLC failed to close a cesspool at a building that the company owns and leases to tenants Sherwin Williams and B. Hayman Co. Services in Kailua-Kona. The LCC will be replaced with a compliant system. The EPA says Group Investments has agreed to pay a $56,151 penalty and close the LCC.

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Since 2005’s LCC ban, more than 3,400 of the cesspools have been closed statewide; however, many hundreds remain in operation. Cesspools collect and discharge untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean, according to the EPA. Groundwater provides 95% of all domestic water in Hawaiʻi, where cesspools are used more widely than in any other state.

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In 2017, the State of Hawaiʻi passed Act 125, which requires the replacement of all cesspools by 2050. It is estimated that there are approximately 90,000 cesspools in Hawaiʻi.

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