Maui County faces fines for dumping wastewater, damaging coral reef
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Maui County is facing fines of more than 100-million
dollars for violating the Clean Water Act.
A federal court judge says the County's breaking the
law by dumping wastewater into wells from its Lahaina facility, damaging the
Compared to the vibrant coral reef Hawaii is known
for, it's a sad scene underwater offshore of Kahekili.
Marine biologists blame algae blooms that smother
Pictures provided to Hawaii News Now by Earthjustice
show algae there thriving with elevated nutrients from 3 to 5 million gallons
of wastewater dumped daily from the Lahaina treatment facility.
Earthjustice Attorney David Henkin said,
"This wastewater that's being injected at Lahaina Facility is going out
onto the reef. It's destroying the reef."
Earthjustice sued Maui County in 2012
after failing to resolve the issue out of court. On Friday, Federal District
Court ruled Maui County is violating the Clean Water Act.
Jenkins said of the potential fine,
"We're already up to over 100 million dollars in potential penalties and
everyday the County continues to drag its feet and refuse to address this
problem, they could be looking at another 100 thousand in penalties."
The ruling came as various State leaders
toured the reef at Kahekili as part of a "floating workshop."
Pictures show Darla White of Division of
Aquatic Resources pointing out the wastewater "seep" to participants.
Henkin says the County should divert
wastewater where it can do good instead of harm for the sake of the economy and
environment, adding "The Reef at Kahekili used to be pristine. We've seen
decline from 55% coral coverage to only 33% coverage and if we don't take
action, we'll lose it."
We reached out to Maui County's
spokesman for comment, and were told they would release a statement, but HNN
did not receive a response.