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EPA announces large capacity cesspool consent agreements

Release Date: 4/14/2005
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711

List includes federal, state and county agencies

HONOLULU -- During an event today at the Queen Emma Summer Palace, U.S. EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri announced agreements with a total of five federal, state and county agencies to close 401 large capacity cesspools, pursuant to the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Act regulations.

"I am pleased that these agencies have committed to close their remaining cesspools in order to protect drinking water, streams, and beaches throughout the islands," Nastri said. "Other large capacity cesspool owners must also take steps to meet these regulations by providing compliance plans and schedules, and closing their large capacity cesspools as soon as possible."

A large capacity cesspool is one that discharges untreated sewage from a multiple dwelling, or a non-residential location that serves 20 or more people on any day. The regulations, which prohibit large capacity cesspools as of April 2005, do not apply to single-family homes connected to their own individual cesspools.

Cesspools discharge raw sewage into the ground, which results in disease-causing pathogens and other contaminants--such as nitrates--polluting groundwater, streams and the ocean.

The EPA reached agreements with the National Park Service, the U.S. Army, the Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawai'i, the Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources and the County of Kauai. The agreements require these agencies, all of whom currently own or operate multiple cesspools, to comply with the EPA's cesspool ban in accordance with a strict schedule.

These agreements cover cesspools at:

-Kalaupapa National Historical Park and Hawai'i Volcanos National Park
-Pohakuloa Training Area and Kilauea Military Camp
-State of Hawai'i owned and managed housing areas
-State parks and boating facilities
-Kauai county parks and other facilities.

"We are committed to work with the EPA in replacing the cesspools at our state parks and harbors. This is an important program to protect Hawai'i's natural resources.  It has been a positive and productive experience working with the EPA and we are happy that we have come to an agreement," said Peter Young, chairman of the Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Cesspools are used more widely in Hawai'i than in any other state. Many are owned by the counties, the state, and the federal government. However, there are numerous other cesspools serving restaurants, hotels, office complexes, and multiple dwellings, such as duplexes, Ohana homes, apartments and condominiums.

Failure to comply with EPA's large capacity cesspool ban could result in enforcement by the agency and the imposition of substantial penalties.

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