The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said so far this year it has issued $104,143 in fines and ordered the closure of five, illegal large-capacity cesspools in Hawaii.
Cesspools, basically underground holes used for the disposal of human waste, 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 Hawaii, where cesspools are used more widely than in any other state
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA in 2005 banned large-capacity cesspools, defined as serving multiple residential dwellings such as townhouse complexes and apartment buildings, or 20 or more persons per day in non-residential dwellings, such as rest areas or churches.
Since then, more than 3,400 large-capacity cesspools have been closed statewide, the EPA said, but hundreds remain in operation.
“We will continue to identify and close the remaining large capacity cesspools in Hawaii,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker in a news release. “This enforcement effort will help protect Hawaii’s drinking water and coastal water resources.”
Among the companies fined by the EPA for large-capacity cesspools were:
>> LuckyU Enterprises Inc.: The company failed to close three large-capacity cesspools associated with Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck on Oahu. LuckyU agreed to pay $62,143 under the settlement and is currently working towards connecting to the nearby county sewer line by the end of 2019.
>> Kailua View Estates Association Inc. (KVEA): EPA inspectors found a large-capacity cesspool associated with the recreation center at Kailua View Estates in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii island. The center hosts events with up to 100 guests supporting the Kailua View Estates subdivision. Under the settlement, KVEA will pay $12,000, close the cesspool and replace it with a state-approved septic system.
>> Kamuela Management LLC: The company failed to close a large-capacity cesspool associated with a multi-business commercial property in Kealakekua, Hawaii. Kamuela Management has agreed to pay $30,000 under the settlement and has been working with the County of Hawaii to develop a replacement wastewater system.
In 2017, the state of Hawaii passed Act 125, which requires the replacement of all cesspools regardless of size by 2050. An estimated 88,000 cesspools exist in the state, with the majority on Hawaii island.
More information about the large-capacity cesspool ban is available at this EPA link.