Maui Council Considers Withdrawal Of Injection Well Appeal

Apr 25, 2019

Credit Ryan Piros / Maui County

WAILUKU — The Maui county council is considering a resolution to settle a longstanding legal case headed for the U.S. Supreme Court over wastewater pumped into injection wells.

Maui County Council chairwoman Kelly King proposed a measure Tuesday to withdraw a legal appeal regarding county use of injection wells, The Maui News reported Wednesday.

The resolution she proposed invokes an ordinance passed in 1999 giving the council authority to settle claims and lawsuits. The resolution was referred to a council committee.

Injection wells are devices used to place liquid into porous geologic formations. The liquids can include water, wastewater, brine and water mixed with chemicals, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's website.

The county's Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility processes about 4 million gallons (15.1 million liters) of sewage daily, injecting unused water into four injection wells.

Four environmental groups sued the county in 2012, saying effluent from its treated wastewater was reaching the ocean and impacting coral reefs. An appeals court ruled the county pumped wastewater into injection wells at the Lahaina treatment plant for more than three decades, thereby violating the Clean Water Act.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case as early as October this year after circuit courts around the country were split over the reach of the Clean Water Act.

County Mayor Michael Victorino has unilateral authority to pull back the case, King said, adding that a high court ruling favoring the county would damage the Clean Water Act.

"Maui County should not be in that position to lead that charge," she said.