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EPA reaches landmark agreement with Kamehameha Schools to conduct cesspool audit of over 3,000 properties

10/03/2018
Contact Information: 
Dean Higuchi (higuchi.dean@epa.gov)
808-541-2711

HONOLULU – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Kamehameha Schools (KS) announced a landmark agreement in which KS will audit over 3,000 properties spanning more than 365,000 acres to identify and close large-capacity cesspools (LCCs).  

“This historic agreement brings Hawaii one step closer to its goal of eliminating all cesspools statewide,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “We hope Kamehameha Schools becomes the first of many landowners who pursue similar strategies, helping protect Hawai’i’s coastal and inland waters.”

The voluntary effort marks a major milestone in Hawai’i’s effort to protect its unique natural resources. Cesspools collect and discharge waterborne pollutants like untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean. In 2005, the federal government banned large-capacity cesspools, making closing all LCCs an ongoing EPA priority. The state of Hawaii has begun work to close or upgrade all small-capacity cesspools by 2050.

“Healthy ‘āina is core to the foundation of Native Hawaiian cultural identity and well-being,” said Marissa Harman, KS Director of Asset Management on Hawai‘i island. “With this agreement, Kamehameha Schools acknowledges its kuleana to steward ʻāina to preserve its resiliency and ensure that future generations will continue to have a relationship with the land that makes the Native Hawaiian people who they are.”

Founded in 1887 by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, Kamehameha Schools (KS) is a private, educational, charitable Native Hawaiian trust committed to improving the capability and well-being of the Native Hawaiian people through education. Income generated from its endowment portfolio, including commercial real estate and other diversified investments, funds KS’ educational mission. As Hawai‘i’s largest private landowner, Kamehameha Schools is responsible for stewarding over 365,000 acres of land across the state of Hawai‘i. 

As part of the agreement, KS is also settling an administrative action for $99,531 related to a LCC at the Volcano Golf Course and Country Club, a property owned by KS and leased to Hawaii International Sporting Club, Inc., on the Island of Hawaiʻi. In July 2017, the lessee closed the cesspool and replaced it with an approved septic system.

Cesspools are used more widely in Hawaiʻi than in any other state, even though 95 percent of all drinking water in Hawaiʻi comes from groundwater sources. In the 13 years more than 3,400 large-capacity cesspools have been closed statewide, many through voluntary compliance.

For more information visit: https://www.epa.gov/uic/consent-agreement-and-final-order-kamehameha-schools-honolulu-hawaii

For more information on the large-capacity cesspool ban and definition of a large-capacity cesspool, visit http://www.epa.gov/uic/cesspools-hawaii

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