The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has fined Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources for an illegal large capacity cesspool, LCC, in Kapa‘a.
EPA’s inspectors on the Garden Island found that the cesspool serving restrooms at the Kamokila Hawaiian Village met the criteria of an unlawful LCC. As a result of this enforcement action, DLNR has now properly closed this cesspool and was fined $105,543.
As part of the settlement, DLNR has agreed to perform an audit to evaluate whether there are LCCs present on any of its 1.3 million acres of property. EPA banned LCCs in 2005 under the Safe Drinking Water Act because they have the potential to pollute water resources.
“The audit by DLNR, the largest land manager in Hawai‘i, represents a significant step toward EPA’s goal of closing all unlawful, pollution-causing large capacity cesspools in Hawai‘i,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “This audit will safeguard public health and protect groundwater by helping DLNR address remaining illegal cesspools.”
As required by the settlement agreement, DLNR will also confirm that all its managed or controlled properties are connected to sanitary sewer systems or otherwise operate compliant wastewater systems. This effort furthers EPA’s goal of protecting groundwater and public health by closing LCCs in Hawai‘i while incentivizing disclosure of additional potentially polluting large cesspools.
“The DLNR worked with the EPA to develop the final order and DLNR has already commenced scoping the audit process set forth in the CAFO,” DLNR officials stated. “The Kamokila Village cesspool was closed on July 9, 2020 and the audit will assist the department in determining what properties are still on cesspool in anticipation of the requirement to remove all cesspools by 2050.”
Since the 2005 LCC ban, more than 3,600 large cesspools in Hawai‘i have been closed; however, approximately 1,400 remain in operation. Cesspools are used more widely in Hawai‘i than in any other state. They collect and release untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater. Groundwater provides 95% of all local water supply in Hawai‘i.