EPA Closes LCCs at 2 Public Libraries
The Hawai‘i State Public Library System (HSPLS) has agreed to close two large-capacity cesspools (LLCs) located at libraries on O‘ahu and Kealakua and pay a fine of $143,990.
Under a settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today, the HSPLS has agreed to close all pollution-causing LCCs that it operates. As of now, LCCs will be shut down at Waialua Public Library and Kealakekua Public Library.
The two libraries are owned by the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources and operated by HSPLS. EPA inspectors found that HSPLS failed to close one LCC at both locations.
At both public libraries, the restroom facilities serve staff members and library patrons. HSPLS has agreed to pay a $143,990 penalty, close the cesspools within 18 months. They will also conduct a self-audit to assess whether all owned or leased properties are connected to a sanitary sewer system or operate a state-permitted compliant septic system.
“State agencies have a responsibility to ensure that Hawai‘i’s communities and critical drinking water resources are protected from pollution-causing large capacity cesspools,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “We want other state and local agencies to follow HSPLS’ approach to identify and close all of their LCCs.”
EPA banned LCCs in 2005, under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. In an additional, forward-leaning step, HSPLS will also conduct an audit to evaluate whether there are LCCs present at any of its other properties.
Since the 2005 LCC ban, more than 3,600 LCCs in Hawai‘i have been closed; however, many hundreds remain in operation. Cesspools collect and discharge 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 domestic water in Hawai‘i.
In 2017, the state of Hawai‘i passed Act 125, which requires the replacement of all cesspools by 2050. It is estimated that there are approximately 88,000 cesspools in Hawai‘i. A state income tax credit is available for upgrading qualified cesspools to a septic system or aerobic treatment unit or connecting them to a sewer. The tax credit ends on Dec. 31, 2020.