Kauai News

EPA Orders Shutdown of 16 Cesspools, Issues Fines

Posted June 15, 2020, 12:22 PM HST

The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued fines and ordered the closure of 16 large capacity cesspools (LLC) discovered at a housing a complex in ‘Ōma‘o and Nukoli‘i Beach Park Comfort Station.

“Island water resources are vulnerable to pollution from large capacity cesspools,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “EPA will continue our efforts to close the remaining large capacity cesspools on Kaua‘i.”

EPA inspectors discovered 15 LLCs associated with he Hale Kūpuna Elderly Housing Complex in 2019. According to EPA officials, the owner of the housing complex, Kaua‘i Housing Development Corporation (KHDC), confirmed that 14 of those LCCs serviced seven multi-unit residential buildings, and one LCC serviced a recreation center building.

“Under the EPA compliance order announced today, KHDC has agreed to close the cesspools by no later than December 31, 2022,” EPA officials stated in a press release. “KHDC plans to replace the LCCs with a state-approved wastewater treatment system.”

A cesspool was also discovered at the Nukoli‘i Beach Park Comfort Station, where EPA inspectors found the restrooms discharged to an LCC. The owner, the Kaua‘i Beach Resort Association, has agreed to pay a $55,182 penalty and close the LCC by January 31, 2021.

Cesspools collect and discharge untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean.

Since 2005’s federal LCC ban, more than 3,600 of the large capacity cesspools in Hawai‘i have been closed statewide; however, many hundreds remain in operation. 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 Hawai‘i passed legislation, which requires the replacement of all cesspools by 2050.

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

For more information on these agreements, the following websites:

Kaua‘i Housing Development Corporation: https://www.epa.gov/publicnotices/kauai-housing-development-corporation-proposed-agreement-safe-drinking-water-act

Kaua‘i Beach Resort Association: https://www.epa.gov/hi/consent-agreement-and-proposed-final-order-kauai-beach-resort-association-uic-09-2020-0030