Maui News

Federal Court Again Finds Maui County Violating Clean Water Act

January 27, 2015, 8:04 AM HST
* Updated January 27, 8:06 AM
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Maui county logo. File image.

Maui county logo. File image.

By Maui Now Staff

A federal court has rules that Maui County is violating the Clean Water Act for the second time in less than a year.

The violation is a result of millions of gallons of wastewater being illegally discharged daily into wells at the Lāhainā Wastewater Reclamation Facility. The wastewater is reportedly polluting Kahekili Beach Park in West Maui, killing coral reef and triggering outbreaks of invasive algae.

“This environmental disaster has been going on for over 30 years,” said David Henkin of Earthjustice who represents a coalition of groups in court. “This latest decision is a wake-up call for the county to stop using the ocean as a sewer and finally fix this problem. The county can and should re-use the millions of gallons of wastewater from the Lāhainā facility to meet the needs of golf courses, resorts, and other developments, not dump them onto fragile reefs.”

In May of last year, Judge Susan Oki Mollway ruled that Maui County’s discharges at two of four wells at the Lāhainā facility were in violation of the federal law. Her decision found that the wastewater “significantly affects the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the receiving waters.”

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Last Friday, Judge Mollway again ruled that current discharges in two wells are illegally violating the Clean Water Act. The ruling dictates that the county must pay civil penalties up to $37,500 per violation of the act. Multiple violations occur every day that the county operates the facility. The penalties will be imposed following a trial set for August 11, 2015. Maximum penalties in this case have already exceeded $100 million, and fines of over $100,000 are being incurred each day.

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Read the decision here.

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