National Forests Must Close Cesspools

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, announced that over a dozen cesspools, or campground pit toilets, have to be closed in Arizona national forests.

According to the agency, 15 pit toilets in the Apache-Sitgreaves, Tonto, Coconino and Kaibab national forests are violating the 2005 ban on large-capacity cesspools from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The pit toilets leak untreated sewage into the ground. This will lead to pathogens and the contamination of bodies of water. The U.S. Forest Service has until Dec. 2024 to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act by closing the pit toilets. If the Forest Service does not meet the deadline, they will have to pay fines.

“Closing cesspools in national forests is important to protect the drinking water resources and the health of those using our public lands,” said Mike Stoker, the EPA Pacific Southwest regional administrator. “We are pleased that the Forest Service helped to identify the cesspools and committed to address these violations.”

Comments can be submitted by the public through Aug. 15.