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EPA Closure Deadline for Large Capacity Cesspools in Hawai'i

Release Date: 4/14/2003
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711

Large Cesspools need to be closed by April 2005

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Hawai'i Department of Health are reminding facility owners and the public that all existing large capacity cesspools need to be closed by April 5, 2005.

In addition, the EPA's regulations have prohibited the construction of new large capacity cesspools since April 5, 2000.

The EPA's ban applies only to large capacity cesspools. A large capacity cesspool is a hole in the ground that receives untreated sewage from 20 or more people per day or daily flows exceeding 1,000 gallons.

This federal ban would not typically apply to cesspools that are smaller, such as single family residential cesspools.

There are an estimated 500 large capacity cesspools in Hawai'i, the majority of which are owned by the counties, the state, and the federal government. Large capacity cesspools can also serve restaurants, hotels, office complexes, and multiple homes or "gang cesspools".

"It is very important that facilities with large capacity cesspools either close them or treat the raw sewage in order to protect the water that people drink and swim in," said Catherine Kuhlman, acting director for the EPA's water division for the Pacific Southwest region. "We would like to encourage facilities, if they have not done so already, to begin planning to meet the upcoming 2005 deadline.

Some alternatives to using a large capacity cesspool include hooking up to available sewer systems or using a large capacity septic system or a wastewater package plant to treat the sewage before disposal into the ground. Facility owners should contact the Hawai'i' Department of Health's Wastewater Branch to determine what kind of treatment and disposal are appropriate for their situation.

All existing large capacity cesspools need to be currently registered with an Underground Injection Control permit issued by the Hawai'i Department of Health. The proper closure of any large capacity cesspool must be done under Federal guidelines and State UIC guidelines provided by the Department of Health.

Improper closure of a large capacity cesspool may result in penalties and corrective action, including redrilling and backfilling. Application forms are available through the Department of Health to register for a UIC permit or to apply for closure of any large capacity cesspool. Until closure is completed, all large capacity cesspools must be registered under a state permit.

Toll-free numbers to contact the Hawai'i Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency are listed below.

To register or close a large capacity cesspool, contact the Hawai'i Dept. of Health Underground Injection Control Program toll-free from the following islands:,
Oahu: 586-4258
Big Island: 974-4000, x64258
Kauai: 274-3141, x64258
Maui: 984-2400, x64258
Molokai & Lanai: 1-800-468-4644, x64258

To install wastewater treatment, contact the Hawai'i Dept. of Health Wastewater Branch toll-free from the following islands:,
Oahu: 586-4294
Big Island: 974-4000, x64294
Kauai: 274-3141, x64294
Maui: 984-2400, x64294
Molokai & Lanai: 1-800-468-4644, x64294

To get information on the large capacity cesspool ban, contact Shannon FitzGerald at the Environmental Protection Agency toll-free at:,From all islands: 1-866-EPA-WEST(1-866-372-9378)
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