Maui Mayor To Defy Committee Settlement Over Injection Wells

Oct 19, 2019

The mayor of Maui has announced plans to defy a County Council resolution and continue to pursue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court over the use of injection wells.

Mayor Michael Victorino posted a letter to the county website Friday saying he has decided not to exercise the authority to settle the case with environmental groups, The Maui News reports.

"I believe the best interests of our residents, our visitors and the environment will be best served by having this case settled by the Supreme Court," Victorino said.

There are high costs involved in retrofitting treatment plants, the recycled water program could be jeopardized, and county taxpayers would be exposed "to costly legal battles over a new interpretation of regulations for wastewater disposal," he said.

The Maui County Committee on Governance, Ethics, and Transparency voted in favor of settling the injection wells, which authorizes Victorino to withdraw the case scheduled to be heard by the high court Nov. 6, officials said.

A council measure called for hiring special counsel to clarify who has the authority over the lawsuit, but they did not get to the item Friday. The council is set to discuss authority clarifications Oct. 29.

Several environmental groups sued the county in 2012 over the use of injection wells at the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility, saying treated wastewater injected into west Maui wells was damaging reefs and polluting water.

Some county officials said they believe injection wells are a safe method to dispose of wastewater without adverse effects.

The issue is whether the Clean Water Act applies to county injection wells and not just direct follows of pollutants in rivers, lakes and the ocean.