EPA requires closures of 2 illegal cesspools in Kona

KAILUA-KONA — Two Kona entities have been fined by the federal government for failing to close a banned large capacity cesspool.

As part of an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Kailua View Estates Association Inc. was issued a $12,000 fine, and will close a large-capacity cesspool there and replace it with a state-approved septic system, a press release from the EPA states.

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The EPA noted that its inspectors found the large-capacity cesspool associated with the recreation center off Nani Kailua Drive in Kailua-Kona. The center hosts events with up to 100 guests supporting the Kailua View Estates subdivision.

Kailua View Estates Association president Erik Frostad said the fine has already been paid and work has begun on the replacement septic system.

“We had a possibility of being hit with an extremely large fine but we negotiated it down to something reasonable,” Frostad said. “We payed the fine and the work is being done as we speak. It should be completed by the end of the month.”

Kamuela Management LLC has agreed to pay $30,000 under a settlement with the EPA and has been working with the County of Hawaii to develop a replacement wastewater system. The EPA said the company failed to close a large-capacity cesspool associated with a multi-business commercial property in Kealakekua.

The EPA said Tuesday its enforcement actions over the past year in Hawaii has led to the closures of five large-capacity cesspools and over $104,143 in fines, including the two Kona cesspools.

An Oahu company, LuckyU Enterprises Inc., failed to close three large-capacity cesspools associated with the restaurant known as Giovanni’s Shrimp. The company agreed to pay $62,143 under the settlement and is currently working toward connecting to the nearby county sewer line by the end of 2019.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA banned large-capacity cesspools in 2005. Since then, more than 3,400 of the cesspools 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, according to the EPA. Groundwater provides 95% of all domestic water in Hawaii, where cesspools are used more widely than in any other state.

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In 2017, the State of Hawaii passed Act 125, which requires the replacement of all cesspools by 2050. It is estimated that there are approximately 90,000 cesspools in Hawaii.

“We will continue to identify and close the remaining large capacity cesspools in Hawaii,” said EPA Pacific Southwest regional administrator Mike Stoker in a press release. “This enforcement effort will help protect Hawaii’s drinking water and coastal water resources.”