During the 1970s the continued dismantling of Hakalau included closure of Hakalau School and shutting down Hakalau Mill after 92 years of operation. Further consolidation of operations among formerly independent plantations was needed to improve efficiency and enable modernization to address issues of aging infrastructure and the need to comply with new environmental regulations. Environmental issues began to be raised related to the dumping of sewage into the ocean from the various camps, including Ninole, Hakalau Upper and Lower Camps.
- In 1971 Wainaku, Hakalau, Pepeekeo, and Papaikou sugar companies were consolidated in a processing cooperative that also included independent cane growers. Under C. Brewer’s ownership the sugar companies combined with hundreds of independent sugar growers to create the Hilo Coast Processing Company which processed all of the sugar cane for their plantations as well as used a by-product, bagasse, to create 25% of the electric power for the island of Hawaii. These companies were later consolidated into the C. Brewer Company. The company switched to coal after the plantation quit growing cane in 1994. (Source: Hawaii Sugar Planters' Association Archives for the Hilo Coast Processing Company)
- In 1972 the Clean Water Act amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 set the stage for changes to wastewater management for years to come, including within the Hakalau Kuleana, i.e., between the 14 and 20 Mile Markers along Highway 19, the Hawaii Belt Road. Specifically, the Clean Water Act:
- Established the basic structure for regulating pollutant discharges into the waters of the United States.
- Gave EPA the authority to implement pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry.
- Maintained existing requirements to set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters.
- Made it unlawful for any person to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained under its provisions.
- Funded the construction of sewage treatment plants under the construction grants program.
- Recognized the need for planning to address the critical problems posed by nonpoint source pollution.
- Pepe‘eke‘ō Sugar merged with Mauna Kea Sugar to form Mauna Kea Sugar Co., Inc. (including Pepe‘eke‘ō, Onomea, Papikou, Wainaku), the state’s fourth largest sugar company with 18,000 acres of cane. (Source: Hawaii Sugar Planters' Association Archives for the Hilo Coast Processing Company)
- The mills at Wainaku and Hakalau were closed as the Pepe‘eke‘ō mill was modernized to double its capacity by 1974. Hakalau plantation was used solely as a seed farm until it was closed down in 1994.
- The Clean Water Act takes hold in the Hakalau Kuleana. Plantation camps, now called villages, were discharging raw sewage into the ocean. The villages between the 14 and 20 mile markers include Ninole with 38 inhabitants; Hakalau Lower Village with 212; and Hakalau Upper Village with 209.
The Honolulu Star Bulletin, December 23, 1974, p. 37, accessed via Newspapers.com
- The company (C. Brewer) is in disarray, its three top officers resign at the same time and the new President, J.W.A. carves a "leaner" company by selling off marginal operations.(Source: The Story of C. Brewer and Company, Limited, Scott C.S. Stone, Island Heritage Publishing, 1991, pp. 224-225.)
- By 1976, C. Brewer's 150th year, there is no longer talk of liquidation [of C. Brewer], and Buyers had led the company into focusing on the best use of the land...(Source:The Story of C. Brewer and Company, Limited, Scott C.S. Stone, Island Heritage Publishing, 1991, p. 225.)
- The company (C. Brewer) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of International Utilities Corporation (IU) and begins to contribute 59 percent of IU's net income on revenues that are one tenth of IU's total. (Source: The Story of C. Brewer and Company, Limited, Scott C.S. Stone, Island Heritage Publishing, 1991, p. 225.)
- The Honolulu newspapers in 1979 rarely mentioned Hakalau. Notices that were published were most likely to be advertisements for sale of property.
- Rev. Tamura arrived and served until 1997 as the 10th minister of the Hakalau Jodo Mission. He wrote of a bleak future:
Unfortunately our future is not the brightest due to the lack of creative actions taken immediately following the closedown of Sugar Cane Plantation a dozen years ago, even though there were many understandable reasons why the actions were not taken at that time.