Maui County Council Votes to Settle Injection Well Lawsuit

September 20, 2019, 5:11 PM HST · Updated September 20, 5:13 PM
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Maui County Council members voted 5 to 4 to settle the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility injection wells case this afternoon.

Council members Tamara Paltin, Keani Rawlings-Fernandez, Shane Sinenci, Mike Molina and Council Chair Kelly King voted to move forward with the resolution to ask Mayor Mike Victorino to settle the case. Council members Riki Hokama, Alice Lee, Tasha Kama and Yuki-Lei Sugimura voted against the resolution.

“The County has made its case twice before federal courts, both of which have concluded that the County violated provisions of the Clean Water Act,” said Council member Molina.  “If we continue the case, are we just spinning our wheels and we appear to be fighting a losing battle.”

During the council meeting Corporation Counsel officials said that it was their opinion that it will be up to the mayor to decide whether to settle the case or not, even if the council votes to settle.

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“My administration will review its options in light of the County Council’s 5-4 vote in favor of authorizing a settlement and withdrawing the Lahaina injection well case from consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Mayor Victorino via press release after the votes were cast. “I am committed to 100 percent reuse of recycled water, but no matter what happens with permits that have become the object of over-heated debate, these improvements cannot happen overnight.

Our experts, the wastewater engineers and managers who work every day on the front lines of this issue, tell us our current permits under the Safe Drinking Water Act are appropriate and that permits under the Clean Water Act would be a regulatory nightmare.”

“The Maui County Council showed true leadership today in its decision to settle outside of court and not risk a historic standoff over the future of America’s clean water at the Supreme Court,” said Earthjustice Managing Attorney Isaac Moriwake. “This decision is a win not only for Maui, but for the country at large.”

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