- Maui Now - https://mauinow.com -

Federal Ruling: Maui County Is Violating Clean Water Act

Lower Honoapiilani Highway near the Honua Kai Resort and Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility. File photo by Wendy Osher. [1]

Lower Honoapiilani Highway near the Honua Kai Resort and Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility. File photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

The county’s use of injection wells at the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility in West Maui violates the federal Clean Water Act according to a federal district court ruling on Friday, the environmental law firm Earthjustice announced.

Earthjustice reports that the court concluded that most of the three to five million gallons of wastewater that is injected into the wells each day flows through groundwater and emerges offshore of the popular Kahekili Beach Park.

County Communications Director Rod Antone responded  to the news saying, “Although we respect the court’s decision we are still reviewing the court’s ruling and evaluating our options.”

The lawsuit, filed by Earthjustice in April of 2012 on behalf of the Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund, Surfrider Foundation, West Maui Preservation Association, and Sierra Club-Maui Group, claimed that “wastewater-laden groundwater” from the injection wells, “substantially affects the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of the ocean water.”

Maui near shore waters, file photo by Wendy Osher. [2]

Maui near shore waters, file photo by Wendy Osher.

According to Earthjustice, the court noted that “the coral reefs near the submarine seeps have been subject to algal blooms that have led to a decline in coral cover from 55% to 33% between 1994 and 2006.”

Earthjustice attorney David Henkin said that under the Clean Water Act, “Maximum penalties in this case already exceed $100 million,” and he said, “the meter is ticking at a rate of over $100,000 per day. It’s time for the county to stop dragging its feet and fix this problem.”

Parties in the lawsuit issued statements via the Earthjustice press release saying the following:

According to information released by Earthjustice, the court will impose civil penalties for the county’s violations following a hearing set for March 17, 2015.