EPA enforces closure of three illegal large capacity cesspools on the Big Island

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Power Self Storage in Kailua-Kona agreed to pay a federal $28,780 penalty and close its illegal large capacity cesspool by Sept. 1, 2023.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has taken enforcement action to close one illegal large capacity cesspool at the SKS Management self-storage business in Kailua-Kona and two cesspools at the Wailuku Professional Plaza in Hilo.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA banned large capacity cesspools in 2005.

“Big Island companies must do their part to protect our surface water and groundwater resources from the disease-causing pollution found in large capacity cesspools,” EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman said in a news release. “EPA is committed to finding and closing all remaining illegal cesspools in Hawai‘i.”


The Wailuku Professional Plaza is located about 100 feet from the Wailuku River in Hilo. In July 2021, EPA conducted an inspection of the Plaza and found two unlawful cesspools serving the multi-tenant commercial office building.

Wailuku Professional Plaza LLC settled the case, agreeing to close the illegal cesspools and pay a $43,000 penalty on May 4, 2022.

EPA also found that the Power Self Storage – Kuakini facility in Kona has a restroom that is served by a large capacity cesspool. SKS Management, the facility’s operator, settled the case, agreeing to pay a $28,780 penalty and close the illegal cesspool by Sept. 1, 2023.


These cesspools meet the regulatory criteria of unlawful non-residential large capacity cesspools because they have the capacity to serve 20 or more persons per day. EPA is authorized to issue compliance orders and/or assess penalties to violators of the Safe Drinking Water Act’s cesspool regulations.

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

Since the 2005 federal ban, more than 3,750 large capacity cesspools in Hawaiʻi have been closed; however, hundreds remain in operation. Cesspools are used more widely in Hawaiʻi than any other state and pose a unique challenge because groundwater provides 95% of all water supply for the islands.


To encourage regulated entities to voluntarily discover, promptly disclose and expeditiously close these pollution-causing systems, EPA provides penalty mitigation and other incentives for companies that proactively find and close large capacity cesspools on their property.

Information on how to self-disclose potential large-capacity cesspool violations is available at:

For more information on the federal ban and definition of a large-capacity cesspool, please visit:

For more information on cesspools in Hawai’i, please visit:

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