HAWAII ISLAND: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined three Big Island companies for failing to close cesspools.

The EPA has resolved federal Safe Drinking Water Act cases against the Jazmin Family Trust, GLACS LLC and Hula Daddy Kona Coffee with fines totaling $141,200 for failing to close their large capacity cesspools on the island. “EPA remains steadfast in protecting Hawaii’s vital water resources,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, in a media release. “Over 2,800 large cesspools have been closed, but an alarming 1,200 are still in use. We are working to shut these illegal cesspools down.”

According to the EPA, the Jazmin Family Trust owns and operates the Kailua Vista Apartments in Kailua-Kona and received a penalty of $60,000 for continued operation of two large capacity cesspools at the apartment complex. The two cesspools will be closed when the apartment building is connected to a proposed extension of the Hawaii County sewer system, expected by October 2013.

EPA also penalized GLACS LLC $68,000 for operation of ten large capacity cesspools, eight at the Pottery Terrace Commercial Properties and two at the Lenders Document Commercial Building in Kailua-Kona. GLACS LLC closed all of the cesspools in June 2011. The company connected the Pottery Terrace properties to the local municipal sewer and installed a state-approved individual wastewater system at the Lenders Document building.

Hula Daddy Kona Coffee operates a visitor center and tasting room for a coffee plantation in Holualoa and received a penalty of $13,200 for installing a new cesspool after the April 5, 2000 ban on the construction of large capacity cesspools. The company built the facility and began operating the new cesspool in August 2008. In September 2010, an EPA inspection and investigation prompted the owners to install a state-approved septic system, closing the cesspool in December 2010.

A large capacity cesspool discharges untreated sewage from multiple dwellings, or a non-residential location that serves 20 or more people per day. The EPA says cesspool discharge can contain disease-causing pathogens and other contaminants that can pollute groundwater, streams and the ocean. EPA regulations prohibited new large capacity cesspool construction after April 2000 and required closure of existing large cesspools as of April 2005. The regulations do not apply to single-family homes connected to their own individual cesspools.