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Investigation Tracks Suspected Pollution From Lahaina Facility

Posted August 5, 2011, 06:29 AM HST Updated August 1, 2014, 11:26 AM HST
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By Wendy Osher

Maui near shore waters, file photo by Wendy Osher.

The US Environmental Protection Agency joins state and federal agencies this week in launching an investigation to track suspected pollution from the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation facility. The study includes evaluation of suspected discharge of pollutants to coastal waters along the Kaanapali Coast.

“The tracer study will help us pinpoint wastewater movement from the Lahaina injection wells,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the Water Division for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “The goal is to evaluate the potential impact of the facility’s discharge on the coastal waters.”

University of Hawai’i scientists are injecting tracer dyes into the facility’s underground injection wells, and monitor areas where fresh water seeps into the ocean for signs of the dye. UH will join staff with the Hawai’i Department of Health in taking periodic ocean water samples at identified ground water discharge points.  Water quality will be sampled monthly, while certain toxic pollutants will be sampled quarterly.

Results of the tests and water quality monitoring studies will be made available to the public later this year.

Injection Well Background Information:

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The federal and state agencies involved in the pollutant research include the US EPA, US Army Corps of Engineers, the Hawaii Department of Health, and the University of Hawaii.

In June, several community groups on Maui notified the county of their intent to sue alleging ongoing violations of the Clean Water Act at the facility. The county, at the time, responded to the claims, calling them “premature at best.”

Maui County Council Meeting:

Today, the Maui County Council is expected to consider a bill on second reading relating to the operations at the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility. The measure seeks authorization for the mayor to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency.

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