United States
Protection Agency
Region 9 Ground Water
Office (WTR-9)	
MAY 2004 Update/Hi
                        Ban on Large-Capacity Cesspools
                        to  Protect  Public Health  in Hawaii
 New cesspool
 prohibited as of
 April 5, 2000

 Existing cesspools
 must be closed
 by April 5, 2005
  The federal regulations
  can be found at 40 CFR
  part 144, Subpart G, which
  was published on
  December 7, 1999. For a
  copy, see the EPA
  Underground  Injection
  Control (UIC) website at
  see Class V.

  Technical information
  regarding treatment
  technologies can be found
  at  www.epa.gov/owm/
  mtb/decent, see Toolbox.

  The statements in this
  document are intended
  solely as technical assistance.
  This document is not
  intended, nor can it be
  relied upon, to create
  any rights enforceable
  by any party in litigation
  with the  United States.
Nationwide Restrictions for Large-Capacity Cesspools: The U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) promulgated Underground Injection Control (UIC) regulations on December 7,
1999 which prohibit the construction of new large-capacity cesspools, effective April 5, 2000.
Existing large capacity cesspools must be upgraded or closed by April 5, 2005. Cesspool
owners are  required to find a waste disposal alternative, such as  connection to a municipal
sewer, or installation of an onsite wastewater treatment unit (such as a septic system).

Large capacity cesspool owners must notify EPA and the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH)
Underground Injection Control (UIC) programs of the existence of  these cesspools and their
intent to close them. To obtain an inventory form, EPA Form 7520-16, contact the Ground Water
Office at (415) 972-3540 or download it from www.epa.gov/safewater. If you have questions
about the ban, contact Laura Tom Bose or Shannon FitzGerald, toll-free at 1-866-EPA-WEST (1-
866-372-9378) orbyemailatbose.laura@epa.gov, orfitzgerald.shannon@epa.gov. To register
a cesspool with DOH, contact the UIC program at (808) 586-4258.

Why is EPA banning large Cesspools? Cesspools allow untreated sewage to percolate directly
to soil and ground water.  They are a public health and environmental  concern. They are banned
because of their likelihood of  releasing disease-causing pathogens and other contaminants,
such as nitrate, to ground water.  The sewage moves through the ground and can contaminate
ground water, streams (sources of drinking water) and the  ocean.

What is large-capacity?  Single-family homes are not subject to the Underground Injection
Control (UIC) regulations.

- Non-residential cesspools, septic systems orsimilarwaste disposal systems are covered under
the UIC program if they are used for the disposal of sanitary waste and have the capacity to
serve 20 or more persons per day, such as a cesspool at a visitor center, business or school.

-  Residential large-capacity cesspools are covered by this regulation if they serve a  multiple
dwelling, community or regional  system.  For example, multiple homes plumbed into  a single
cesspool or a series of cesspools (gang cesspool(s)).

If cesspools are banned, how will we get rid of sewage?  If  municipal sewer lines are
accessible, sewage should be disposed to the municipal sewer for treatment before its release to
the environment. If a sewer line is not accessible, replacing or upgrading cesspools so that they
are part of a conventional septic system (or enhanced onsite wastewater treatment system) is
acceptable,  and can reduce the risk of contamination.

Cesspool owners should consult with the DOH Waste Water Branch and the County Wastewater
Program to learn what alternatives are allowable and what regulations or codes apply to their
situation.  The type of waste treatment required may vary based on an area's vulnerability to
contamination, population density, soils, hydrogeology, and climate.

Failure to close or upgrade a large-capacity cesspool by April 5,2005 could result in enforcement
by the EPA,  including a fine of $32,500 per day per large capacity cesspool.

                 Regulatory Terms
The following definitions are provided to assist you with
understanding the regulatory requirements and are taken
from the federal regulations at 40 CFR part  144.3 and
Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR), Title  11, Chapters 23
and 62.

Cesspool means a "drywell" that receives  untreated
sanitary waste containing human  excreta, and which
sometimes has an open bottom and/or perforated sides.
[CFR] Further, it is an individual wastewater system which
is designed to receive no more than 1000 gallons per day
of domestic wastewater. [HAR]

Drvwell  means a well, other than an improved sinkhole or
subsurface fluid distribution system, completed above the
water table so that its bottom and sides are typically dry
except when receiving fluids. [CFR]

Individual Wastewater System means a facility which is
designed to receive and dispose of no more than 1000 gallons
per day of domestic wastewater. [HAR]

Sanitary waste (domestic waste) means liquid or solid wastes
originating from human activities, such as wastes collected
from toilets, showers, wash basins, sinks used for cleaning
domestic areas, food preparation, clothes or dish washing
operations. [CFR]

Seepage pit means an excavation in the ground which receives
the discharge from treatment units and permits the effluent to
seep through its bottom or sides to gain access to the
underground formation.[HAR]

Septic system means a "well" that is used to emplace
sanitary  waste below the surface and is typically comprised
of a septic tank and subsurface fluid distribution system
or disposal system, e.g. seepage pit. [CFR]

Subsurface fluid distribution system means an assemblage
of perforated pipes, drain tiles, or other similar mechanisms
intended to distribute fluids below the surface of the ground.

Well means a bored, drilled, or driven shaft whose depth is
greater than the largest surface dimension; or, a dug hole
whose depth is greater than the largest surface dimension; or,
an improved sinkhole; or, a subsurface fluid distribution
system. [CFR]

Other questions about Cesspools:

What does it mean "have the capacity to serve more
than 20 persons per day?" Any cesspool  that is being
used or has been used by 20 persons in a single day meet
the federal definition of a large capacity cesspool.
 Influent (waste)
 from building(s)
cover (sometimes at ground
surface or buried)
Fluid Level

Brick, stone, concrete Block,
Ring, or Precast Chamber, or
other sidewall material, with
Open Joints

Backfill Material
                      T Sludge Accumulation
                                   -water table
          Typical Cesspool Design
What if my cesspool disposes  of  more  than just
sanitary waste or domestic wastewater?  A cesspool
receiving  a combination  of sanitary waste and/or a
commercial waste, such as a cesspool serving a hospital,
laundromat or supermarket is an industrial well.  It is subject
to federal and  DOH UIC  regulations  as well as DOH
Wastewater regulations. If the cesspool serves or has
served 20 or more persons, it must be closed by April
2005. In addition, under state law, cesspools and other
individual wastewater systems receiving less than 1000
gallons per day (gpd) cannot  be used for industrial
wastewater disposal, are in  violation of state law, and must
upgrade.  Cesspools receiving flows of greater than 1000
gpd and all injection wells  must apply  for a permit from
the DOH  UIC program.

What if my cesspool is not a  drywell by the federal
definition? The term "drywell" is used in the regulation to
cover the most common type of construction.  Some areas
may use other designs. Some areas may also experience
changes in water table levels, so that a  cesspool is in the
saturated zone. Cesspools that intersect the water table
are banned by DOH and must be upgraded. Discharge of
untreated sewage directly into the water table may be  an
even greater risk than  discharge to soil above the water
table, particularly in the transport of viruses.

How do I  close my cesspool? The DOH UIC program
has  specific backfilling requirements that are issued to
the facility after an abandonment application is submitted
by the facility. Backfilling should not occur unless backfilling
instructions are  issued. For information, contact the UIC
program at (808) 586-4258.

How do I replace my system? Plans must be prepared
by a professional engineer for all new or replacement
wastewater systems and must be submitted to the DOH
Wastewater Branch for review and approval prior to
construction. For information, contact the Wastewater
Branch at (808) 586-4294.