HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has fined the County of Hawai‘i $28,500 for failure to meet the milestone requiring complete design of the Pāhala Wastewater Treatment Facility in Pāhala, Hawaii. In June 2017, EPA and the County of Hawai‘i voluntarily entered into an order for the Pāhala Community Large Capacity Cesspools Closure Project.
“County of Hawai‘i has failed to meet its legal commitment to modernize wastewater infrastructure,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Director of the Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division, Amy Miller. “EPA expects the County to expeditiously construct the Pāhala Wastewater Treatment Facility to protect drinking water and coastal resources on the Big Island.”
In the 2017 Order, the County agreed to close five large capacity cesspools (LCCs) that serve the Pāhala and Nāʻālehu communities and replace the cesspools with wastewater treatment facilities approved by the Hawai‘i Department of Health. The County of Hawai‘i was required to complete the Pāhala Wastewater Treatment Plant design and have it approved by the Department of Health by July 24, 2021.
Under the agreement, approximately 272 properties served by the LCCs in the Pāhala and Nāʻālehu communities will be connected to the new County wastewater treatment facilities. An additional 95 properties not currently served by the LCCs in the Pāhala and Nāʻālehu communities will receive access to the new wastewater treatment facilities.
An LCC is a cesspool serving multi-unit residential homes, a non-residential facility with the capacity to serve 20 or more people per day, or a home business. LCCs were banned under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act in April 2005. Since the 2005 LCC ban, more than 3,600 LCCs in Hawaii have been closed; however, 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.
For more information on this specific agreement visit: https://www.epa.gov/uic/hawaii-cesspool-administrative-orders.
For more information on the LCC ban, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/uic/cesspools-hawaii.