EPA targets cesspools

KOLOA — Two of the 10 large capacity cesspools targeted for closure by the Environmental Protection Agency are located in Koloa, and both have been fined and ordered to switch over to a wastewater treatment plant.

Koloa Big Save Market and the Old Koloa Town Shopping Center are both in the process of switching.

Esther Kawakami-Williams, vice president of NF Kawakami Ltd., the company that owns the land under Koloa Big Save, said they’re paid up with EPA.

“We have already paid our fine and we hired Shioi Construction to do our WWTP (wastewater treatment plant),” Kawakami-Williams said. “They gave us a deadline to close it before May 31 of next year and we’re totally on schedule to meet that.”

The company has been working with EPA, the county and the state to find solutions to the large-capacity cesspool (LCC) since 2005, Kawakami-Williams said, and was on track to be part of the Koloa/Poipu regional wastewater treatment system until 2013.

But in 2013, property owners realized they’d need an independent system and now the one they’re installing will “exceed regulatory requirements and result in significant environmental benefits for the area,” Kawakami-Williams said.

The required replacement is part of the EPA’s efforts to close large-capacity cesspools after a 2005 federal government ban on LCCs.

Koloa Big Save was fined $110,000 in a civil penalty. Just down the road, Old Koloa Town Shopping Center was fined $81,549 and ordered to close two LCCs and replace them with a wastewater treatment plant approved by the Hawaii Department of Health.

That shopping center is owned by Honolulu-based The Beall Corporation. Representatives from Beall Corp. could not be reached from comment.

In addition to the Kauai cesspools, EPA inspectors cited the Hawaii Country Club, Kloeckner Metals Corporation, Honolulu LLC/Hon Realty, Dole Food Co. and Kamehameha Schools on Oahu.

Fines totaled more than $640,000.

We will continue working to close all remaining large cesspools,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “This enforcement effort will help protect Hawaii’s drinking water and coastal water resources.”

Since 2005, more than 3,400 LCCs have been closed statewide; however, many thousands 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 percent of all domestic water in Hawaii, where cesspools are used more widely than in any other state.


Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

  1. Palani November 14, 2018 8:13 am Reply

    Homeowners would gladly tie into a community sewer line, if there were one. There is not. Are individual homeowners going to be forced to install their own wastewater treatment plants?

  2. curious dog November 14, 2018 9:13 am Reply

    When the technology makes it practical for mass-use of compostible toilets, it would be nice if the County would allow these as alternatives to standard toilets.

    Thank you to DOH & Surfrider for monitoring our waterways & ocean breaks!

  3. MisterM November 14, 2018 10:56 am Reply

    Simply outrageous that cesspools, large or small, are still allowed. Should have closed the locations until proper sewage treatment was in place. These should have all been closed well over a decade ago.

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