Maui mayor says he won’t drop wastewater case headed to US Supreme Court

Environmentalists say Maui County's wastewater injection well violate the Clean Water Act.
Environmentalists say Maui County's wastewater injection well violate the Clean Water Act.(Marley Rutkowski)
Updated: Oct. 18, 2019 at 4:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui’s mayor says he won’t drop a major environmental case set to go before the U.S. Supreme, despite a county council vote to do just that.

Mayor Mike Victorino said the vote did not require him to settle the case. The council disagrees.

Maui County is preparing to argue next month before the U.S. Supreme Court that its wastewater wells in Lahaina are not harming the coastline.

It’s one of the most closely-watched environmental cases in the country and a potentially significant test of the Clean Water Act.

The case involves treated wastewater injected into West Maui wells that eventually reaches the ocean.

The plaintiffs argue the wastewater is damaging the reefs and polluting the water. They won their case in the federal appeals court.

However, the county says the wells are a practical, safe way to get rid of wastewater and its research showed no proof of negative impacts. They want the Supreme Court to let them keep doing it.

In a statement Friday, Victorino said that he wants Maui taxpayers to “have their day before the U.S. Supreme Court” and determine if the Clean Water Act applies in the case.

“To allow this to go unanswered leaves us vulnerable to more lawsuits, to uncertain regulatory requirements and staggering costs ― all for what would be a negligible environmental benefit,” Victorino said, in a news release. “The legal exposure is immense.”

This story will be updated.

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