Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Hilo to pay $132,000 for illegal large capacity cesspools

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EAN Holdings, operator of Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Hilo, will pay $132,000 to resolve the U.S. Environmental Protect Agencyʻs claim that the facility’s two large capacity cesspools violated the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The consent agreement and final order of Jan. 23, 2023 was announced by the EPA.

Since February 2017, EAN has operated illegal, pollution-causing large capacity cesspools serving its check-in site for car and truck rentals in Hilo on the Big Island, according to the EPA.

Large capacity cesspools. Illustration: EPA

In 2000, Congress banned the construction of large capacity cesspools, which generally are described as serving 20 or more people per day. Five years later, it banned their operation, including in Hawai’i.


“EPA will continue to use our enforcement authority to close unlawful cesspools, as they pose a serious risk of contaminating Hawaiʻi’s precious groundwater and coastal resources,” said Martha Guzman, EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator.

Cesspools are a big problem throughout the Hawaiian Islands, with nearly 90,000 cesspool systems causing 53 million gallons of untreated sewage to contaminate the stateʻs groundwater, streams and ocean each day with disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals.

A State of Hawai’i Cesspool Conversion Working Group recently advised moving up the deadline for the worst offenders by 20 years, to 2030. And this week, the State Legislature’s Environmental Legislative Caucus announced its 2023 bill package that included a measure to create a tax credit for cesspool conversion and to require that buyers of properties with cesspools are informed about state laws regarding cesspool conversion.


Since the 2005 federal ban, more than 3,750 large capacity cesspools in Hawaiʻi have been closed; however, hundreds remain in operation, the EPA said.

The EPA has been aggressively going after the remaining illegal cesspools in the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaiʻi uses cesspools more widely than any other state; and the cesspools pose a unique challenge because groundwater provides 95 percent of all water supply for the islands.

In October of 2022, the EPA enforced closure of large capacity cesspools at another Big Island business, Power Self Storage in Kailua-Kona, which had three illegal cesspools at two locations.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Hilo. Image: Google Earth

In September 2021, EPA sought information from EAN Holdings about the method of wastewater disposal at the Hilo rental car facility and discovered that EAN was operating two illegal large capacity cesspools.

As a result, EAN agreed to pay a $132,402 penalty and properly close the unlawful large capacity cesspools by Oct. 30, 2023.

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.

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