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EPA to hold public hearing on injection well permit for Honokowai plant

By Staff | Aug 20, 2009

From left, Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunrise President Charles Keoho presents a recognition plaque to Service Rental and Supply Inc. General Manager Ryan Ouye (center) and Branch Manager Alfred Gouveia. The 37-year-old Lahaina firm provided lights and a generator in support of the club’s annual Christmas tree sale. Photo by Maui Communicators.

LAHAINA — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold an informational meeting and public hearing today, Thursday, Aug. 20, for a revised draft permit for the county’s use of underground injection wells at the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility in Honokowai. Open to the public, the informational meeting will be held at the Lahaina Civic Center Social Hall from 4:30 to 6 p.m., followed by a public hearing from 7 to 9 p.m.

EPA noted that the purpose of the informational meeting is to better inform the public to comment on the draft permit.

Both written and verbal comments on the revised draft permit will be accepted at the hearing, and EPA will prepare a transcript of the hearing for the permit’s administrative record.

EPA revised the injection control permit from a prior proposal subject to public comments and a November 2008 hearing.  

The public is invited to submit any new data relevant to the county’s injection operations and make comments and recommendations on the draft permit renewal.  

All written comments (e-mail is acceptable) must be received or postmarked by Aug. 20, 2009 to be considered.

EPA will consider all public comments, including those previously submitted, before making a final decision on the proposed permit.

Comments already submitted to EPA, and the revised draft permit, are posted on EPA’s Region 9 website at http://www.epa.gov/region09/water/groundwater/uic-permits.html.  

This proposed ten-year permit would renew authorization for the County of Maui to operate four injection wells at the LWRF located near the intersection of Honoapiilani Highway and Lower Honoapiilani Road.

The county owns and operates the facility that provides secondary treatment to domestic wastewater.

LWRF disposes of 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 gallons per day of the treated wastewater into the ground through the gravity-fed injection wells.

The facility reclaims one million gallons per day (mgd) of treated wastewater and sends it for reuse by a nearby golf course, pineapple company and construction contractors. This wastewater is reclaimed to state R-1 quality by adding ultraviolet disinfection.

R-1 quality means the wastewater is sufficiently filtered and disinfected of bacteria and viruses for it to be used safely to water areas frequented by people.

To ensure adequate disinfection of the injectate, protect groundwater quality and the coastal environment, and promote water reuse, EPA is proposing a permit condition to require by Dec. 31, 2011, that all injection fluid at the West Side facility be treated to R-1 standards by non-chlorine disinfection.

The injection rate limits in the existing permit, based on the maximum treatment capacity of the plant, are set at an average injection rate to not exceed 9.0 mgd for any calendar week, and a maximum injection rate to not exceed 19.8 mgd for any one day.

EPA is proposing a change from these maximum capacities to an average injection rate of 7 mgd for any calendar week and a maximum rate of 10 mgd for any one day.

EPA feels the county can meet these injection rates, based on LWRF’s operating flows for the past four-and-a-half years.

To halt ocean pollution, promote use of treated wastewater for irrigation and protect potable water resources, residents and members of DIRE (Don’t Inject REdirect) are expected to ask EPA to force the county to phase out use of injection wells.    

The agency also proposes conditions in the draft permit to reduce total nitrogen and minimize pathogens in the injected effluent.

To track the county’s compliance with the new conditions, the proposed permit requires additional monitoring and reporting.

The injection wells, ranging in depth from 180 to 255 feet, are located 1,500 to 1,900 feet from the shoreline at an elevation of about 30 feet.

Comments may be sent to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Attention Nancy Rumrill, Ground Water Office (WTR-9), 75 Hawthorne St., San Francisco, CA 94105; or by e-mail to rumrill.nancy@epa.gov.