EPA orders closure of 16 cesspools in Kauai

June 17, 2020
The agency will also collect $55,182 in penalties.

HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken enforcement actions in Kauai 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.

“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 Kauai.”

In 2019, EPA inspectors found 15 LCCs associated with the Hale Kupuna Elderly Housing Complex in Omao, Kauai. The owner of the housing complex, Kauai 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 today, 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 Kauai, EPA inspectors found the restrooms discharged to an LCC. The owner, the Kauai 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 Hawaii 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 Hawaii, where cesspools are used more widely than in any other state. In 2017, the State of Hawaii passed Act 125, which requires the replacement of all cesspools by 2050.