DLNR has plan
to convert cesspools
A state department that will replace 60 large-capacity cesspools with less polluting alternatives was lauded yesterday as a model of compliance with new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which has large-capacity cesspools at 23 state parks and three small boat harbors, has promised to spend $16.5 million to convert these to less polluting septic systems or to hook them to municipal sewer systems.
"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 Hawaii's natural resources," DLNR Director Peter Young said yesterday at an announcement of his agency's pact with the EPA.
In addition to the DLNR, the EPA has reached agreements for Kalaupapa National Historical Park and Hawaii Volcanos National Park; Pohakuloa Training Area and Kilauea Military Camp; state-owned and managed housing areas; and Kauai County parks and facilities.
"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," EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri announced yesterday.
To improve water quality nationwide, the EPA is calling for a phase-out of cesspools that serve either more than one home or a nonresidential building that serves more than 20 people a day.
The deadline for removal of these large cesspools, which allow raw sewage to seep into ground water, was April 5. But the EPA is making deals with any large-capacity cesspool owners that show concrete plans for getting rid of them within a reasonable amount of time.
Otherwise, cesspool owners face potential fines of up to $11,000 a day for noncompliance.
Cesspools are used more widely in Hawaii than in any other state, the EPA said. State and federal officials say there are more than 2,000 large-capacity cesspools. Though many are owned by government entities, others serve restaurants, hotels, office complexes and multiple dwellings, such as duplexes, ohana homes, apartments and condominiums.
The rules do not apply to single-family homes connected to cesspools.