EPA moves to protect Big Island groundwater resources by requiring closures of 12 cesspools

HONOLULU HI (3/9/2020) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will take enforcement actions on the Big Island to bring about the closure of a dozen pollution-causing large-capacity cesspools (LCCs) and charge $144,696 in fines. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, 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 Hawaii.”

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

In addition, in Kailua-Kona the 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. The LCC will be replaced with a compliant system. Group Investments has agreed to pay a $56,151 penalty and close the LCC.

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. Groundwater provides 95% of all domestic water in Hawaii, where cesspools are used more widely than in any other state.

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

For more information on the large-capacity cesspool ban and definition of a large-capacity cesspool, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/uic/cesspools-hawaii.

Media Contact: Alejandro Diaz, 808-541-2711, diaz.alejandro@epa.gov

X