Under an agreement with the EPA, the USDA Forest Service closed 77 large-capacity cesspools (LCCs) it operated in Arizona and California. The Forest Service met the deadlines set forth in the agreement and closed the cesspools, which can be sources of harmful water pollution, in 11 national forests across the two states. Cesspools collect and release untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater and surface waters that are sources of drinking water. Although EPA banned LCCs – which serve 20 or more people per day or serve a multi-unit residential building -- under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005, the Forest Service continued to operate LCCs in national forests after the closure deadline. When EPA identified these cesspools in 2016, the Forest Service agreed to close these units under an administrative order on consent with enforceable deadlines and completed the closures by 30 Dec. 2020.
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