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EPA Enforces Ban on Big Island Cesspools

August 8, 2016, 3:06 PM HST
* Updated August 8, 3:10 PM
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epa clean water logoThe US Environmental Protection Agency today announced separate agreements with the County of Hawai‘i, the County of Maui and the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources to close illegal large-capacity cesspools on Hawai‘i Island and Maui.

The County of Hawai‘i will pay a $105,000 fine for its two cesspools at the Hilo Drag Strip and one at the Hilo Trap & Skeet Range.

The County of Maui will pay a $33,000 fine for one cesspool at the Maui Raceway Track.

The DLNR will pay a $50,000 fine for its cesspools at Wainapanapa State Park on Maui and will close or convert smaller cesspools at seven state park and recreational areas on the Big Island, Maui and O‘ahu.

“To make Hawai‘i’s coastal waters safe for both residents and visitors, we must stop the flow of pollutants and pathogens from large capacity cesspools,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Public facilities have the same obligations as private ones to close them.”

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EPA found continued use of the illegal cesspools despite a 2005 ban under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act’s Underground Injection Control program.

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Subsequent to the agency’s investigations, Hawai‘i County has closed the three illegal cesspools at the drag strip and skeet range, with plans to replace them with approved individual wastewater systems at each location.

Maui County has closed the illegal cesspool at the raceway.

DLNR closed the six illegal cesspools that served the park’s 12 rental cabins at the Waianapanapa State Park near Hāna and converted them to approved septic systems.

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Cesspools collect and discharge untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean. They are used more widely in Hawai‘i than any other state.

Throughout Hawai‘i, over 3,000 large-capacity cesspools have been closed since the 2005 ban, many through voluntary compliance. The EPA regulations do not apply to single-family homes connected to their own individual cesspools.

All three cases are each subject to a 30-day public comment period.

For more information on the cases, visit https://www.epa.gov/region9/enforcement/pubnotices/archive/ and https://www.epa.gov/uic/hawaii-cesspools-administrative-orders.

For more information on the large capacity cesspool ban and definition of a large capacity cesspool, visit http://www2.epa.gov/uic/cesspools-hawaii.

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