EPA reaches settlement with Kauai estate over 3 illegal cesspools

Nov. 11—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it has reached a $58,000 settlement with the Kukuiolono Park Trust Estate for the operation of illegal cesspools on its properties on Kauai.

The settlement resolves claims of violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act due to three pollution-causing cesspools, which the estate agreed to close at the Kukuiolono Park and Golf Course Pavilion, comfort station, and campground at Kalaheo by Dec. 31, 2024.

The estate confirmed that each property is served by a cesspool, which the EPA determined to be illegal large-capacity cesspools.

The settlement will be concluded with the Bank of Hawaii, the trustee of the Kukuiolono Park Trust Estate.

"EPA is committed to identifying and closing all large capacity cesspools in Hawaii, as these are illegal under federal law and threaten public health as well as Hawaii's cherished water resources" said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman in a statement. "This settlement represents continued progress toward cleaner groundwater, surface water, and beaches for Hawaii."

Cesspools — basically shallow, underground holes for the disposal of human waste — collect and release untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean.

Cesspools are used more widely in Hawaii than any other state, according to the EPA, and pose a unique challenge since groundwater provides 95% of all water supply for the islands.