Maui County has been violating the federal Clean Water Act by pumping wastewater into Lahaina injection wells, which then flows into coastal waters, a federal judge ruled on Friday.
The county is facing fines of more than $100 million related to the discharges, in addition to fines of $100,000 for each day that the discharges continue, according to a press release from Honolulu’s Earthjustice, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of environmental groups.
“To discourage polluters like Maui County from using our oceans as their dumping ground, the Clean Water Act imposes stiff penalties,” Earthjustice attorney, David Henkin, said in a statement. “It’s time for the county to stop dragging its feet and fix this problem.”
Earthjustice filed the lawsuit in April 2012 on behalf of Hawaii Wildlife Fund, Surfrider Foundation, West Maui Preservation Association and Sierra Club — Maui Group.
Maui County spokesman Rod Antone issued a statement in response to the ruling, saying, “Although we respect the court’s decision, we are still reviewing the court’s ruling and evaluating our options.”
He declined to comment on a possible appeal.
The federal court found that the wastewater, transported out to sea by the natural flow of groundwater, was polluting Kahekili Beach Park in west Maui.
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.