EPA to close 16 large cesspools on Kaua‘i

LIHU‘E — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken enforcement actions in Kaua‘i to close 16 pollution-causing large capacity cesspools (LCCs) and collect $55,182 in penalties. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA banned large capacity cesspools in 2005.

In 2017, the State of Hawai‘i passed Act 125, which requires the replacement of all cesspools by 2050. There are an estimated 90,000 cesspools in Hawai‘i, according to the state Department of Health.

“Island water resources are vulnerable to pollution from large capacity cesspools,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “EPA will continue our efforts to close the remaining large capacity cesspools on Kaua‘i.”

In 2019, EPA inspectors found 15 LCCs associated with the Hale Kupuna Elderly Housing Complex in Omao, Kaua‘i.

In a news release about the enforcement action, the owner of the housing complex, Kaua‘i Housing Development Corporation (KHDC), confirmed that 14 of those LCCs serviced seven multi-unit residential buildings, and one LCC serviced a recreation center building.

Under the EPA compliance order announced Monday, KHDC has agreed to close the cesspools by no later than December 31, 2022. KHDC plans to replace the LCCs with a state-approved wastewater treatment system.

At the Nukoli’i Beach Park Comfort Station, located on the windward side of Kaua‘i, EPA inspectors found the restrooms discharged to an LCC. The owner, the Kaua‘i Beach Resort Association, has agreed to pay a $55,182 penalty and close the LCC by January 31, 2021.

Since 2005’s federal LCC ban, more than 3,600 of the large capacity cesspools in Hawai‘i have been closed statewide; 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, where cesspools are used more widely than in any other state.

Kaua‘i Beach Resort Association and Kaua‘i Housing Development Corporation are just two entities that have drawn fines from EPA for continued operation of LLC’s on Kauai. In 2018, Koloa Big Save Market owners were fined $110,000 and the Old Koloa Shopping Center was fined $81,549 for operating LLCs. Both were ordered to close the LLCs and replace them with Department of Health-approved wastewater treatment plants.


Jessica Else, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

  1. MisterM June 16, 2020 7:55 pm Reply

    The fines are way too small and the timeline for compliance should be immediate.

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