Lahaina News | Jul 30, 2021
It’s long past time for the County of Maui and Maalaea condominiums to end stone age wastewater treatment practices.
Specifically, the use of injection wells — sending treated wastewater into the ground, where it mixes with groundwater and eventually pollutes the ocean.
This is the case at the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility, where 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 gallons of treated and disinfected wastewater is sent into four injection wells DAILY.
Hawaii Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club-Maui Group, Surfrider Foundation and West Maui Preservation Association took a stand and successfully challenged this foolish practice all the way up to the Supreme Court.
In a clear waste of money, Maui County appealed the Supreme Court decision and lost again.
U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway on July 15 reaffirmed that the County of Maui has violated the Clean Water Act by failing to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit for its discharge of wastewater into the Pacific Ocean at North Beach makai of the sewage treatment plant.
In the order, the judge noted, “The parties in this lawsuit agree that millions of gallons of treated wastewater travel from those injection wells through groundwater, and that 100 percent of that wastewater finds its way into the ocean, although with certain components, like nitrogen, being reduced before the wastewater reaches the ocean.”
We applaud the new West Maui Recycled Water System Project and other county efforts to improve wastewater treatment and reuse of treated effluent for irrigation.
Maybe this new ruling will speed up the process and help end injection well pollution on Maui.