EPA Directs 7 Illegal Cesspools on Kauaʻi To Close & Fines Hawaiʻi DLNR
The US Environmental Protection Agency has taken enforcement action on Kauaʻi, directing the closure of seven large-capacity cesspools that have been banned since 2005 and collecting $221,670 in fines from the cesspools owner, the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources.
The ban of large-capacity cesspools (LCC) was implemented under the Safe Drinking Water Act because they can pollute water resources.
“EPA has taken several actions against Hawai’i DLNR and encouraged them to conduct an audit of all remaining properties to identify any remaining illegal large capacity cesspools to prevent future fines,” said Amy Miller, EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Director of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Large-capacity cesspools can contaminate our groundwater, streams and ocean resources. EPA will continue efforts to identify, fine and close all remaining LCCs in Hawaiʻi.”
EPA is authorized to issue compliance orders and/or assess penalties to violators of the Safe Drinking Water Act’s LCC regulations. EPA’s enforcement action to close LCCs owned by DLNR is based on an August 2019 inspection and additional submitted information. The enforcement action includes the following DLNR properties:
- Camp Hale Koa: Located in the Kōkeʻe Mountain State Park, EPA found three LCCs associated with the campgrounds. A non-profit organization leases the property from DLNR and operates the land parcel as a camping property that is available for daily or weekly group camping. These cesspools have been closed.
- Waineke Cabins: Also located in the Kōkeʻe Mountain State Park, EPA found two LCCs serving the cabins. The United Church of Christ, under its Hawaiʻi Conference Foundation body, leases the property from DLNR and operates the land parcel as a group camping property. These cesspools have been closed.
- Kukui Street commercial property: Located in the town of Kapaʻa, EPA discovered two LCCs serving 4569 Kukui Street. aFein Holdings, LLC, leases the property from DLNR and operates the land parcel as a multi-tenant commercial property. The Kukui property must close the cesspool by June 30, 2022.
Since the 2005 LCC ban, more than 3,600 LCCs in Hawaiʻi have been closed; however, many hundreds remain in operation. Cesspools collect and release 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 local water supply in Hawaiʻi, where cesspools are used more widely than in any other state.
To encourage regulated entities to voluntarily find, promptly disclose and expeditiously close LCCs, EPA may provide penalty mitigation and other incentives for organizations that disclose, correct and prevent violations. Information on how to self-disclose potential large-capacity cesspool violations is available at: https://www.epa.gov/compliance/epas-edisclosure.
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.
For more information on this agreement visit: https://www.epa.gov/hi/proposed-settlement-safe-drinking-water-act-administrative-penalty-state-hawaii-department-land.