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Urge the county to drop its injection well case

By Staff | Aug 19, 2019

A court case tied to a foolish practice – sending 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 gallons of treated wastewater into injection wells at Maui County’s Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility in Honokowai each day – now has national implications, as it is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rob Weltman, Maui Group chair of the Sierra Club of Hawaii, recently explained the situation in a letter to Lahaina News.

“For over 30 years, the county’s Lahaina wastewater facility has dumped 3-5 million gallons of partially treated sewage every day into groundwater injection wells – which release into the waters of Kahekili. Community groups on Maui have been fighting this careless pollution for the last decade.

“Repeatedly, courts have ruled in favor of clean water, affirming that Maui County has violated the Clean Water Act for three decades. Despite this, Maui County has spent $4.3 million in taxpayer money to fight the law – money which could have gone into water reuse to keep the nutrient-rich water off of West Maui’s reefs,” he continued.

“Soon this case will be in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and has the potential to strip vital protections from hundreds of streams, rivers, lakes and coastal waters by gutting the Clean Water Act.

“This case impacts more than just Maui. Some of the largest polluters in the U.S., dirty industries like fracking, coal mining and factory farming, are watching and supporting Maui County’s case. A ruling in favor of Maui County would mean that these polluters are free to contaminate water bodies in the U.S. as long as they release their waste into a pipe in the ground – no matter where that pollution goes.”

A growing number of Maui residents and community groups, including the Surfrider Foundation, Hawaii Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club, West Maui Preservation Association and Earthjustice, want to urge Maui County to withdraw its case, work on homegrown solutions and help protect clean water across the country.

Learn more about these important issues at “Malama Kai – A Town Hall Discussion On The Lahaina Injection Wells, The Clean Water Act, And What The People Of Maui Should Know About It” on Wednesday, Aug. 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Maui Ocean Center’s Dome Theater.

Space is limited for this free event. Register at bit.ly/cwa-0821 or via www.facebook.com/events/477790269723516/.

Panelists will include Mahesh Cleveland of Earthjustice, Rhiannon Chandler of the ‘Iao Waterkeepers Alliance, former EPA Honolulu Staff Biologist Dr. Wendy Wiltse, Cultural Resource Specialist Iokepa Naeole and Daniel Kanahele of the Puko?a o Kama Alliance.

This is a problem that Mayor Michael Victorino has inherited. It’s not his fault that this West Maui plant is polluting nearshore waters in Kaanapali, or that past county officials didn’t have the wisdom to require new area resorts to fund the infrastructure for wastewater reuse when they were approved.

Instead of going to court to allow a senseless practice to continue, the county should withdraw the case and take steps – in a reasonable time frame – to end the use of these injection wells.