Aug 2019: Civil Beat: Author: Nathan Eagle; Maui County Council members are expected to decide Tuesday (3 Sept 2019) if they want to go against Mayor Michael Victorino and settle a major Clean Water Act case instead of letting a conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court decide it in November.
The four environmental groups that brought the lawsuit delivered petitions this week with more than 15,000 signatures to Council Chair Kelly King. They are urging the council to step in now so it can spare the county — and the country — from an unfavorable judgment.
The Hawaii Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club-Maui Group, Surfrider Foundation and West Maui Preservation Association sued in 2012 after trying for years to reach an agreement with the county over its Lahaina wastewater reclamation facility, which has been releasing treated water into the ground that ends up entering the ocean and harming coral reefs.
District and appeals courts have ruled that the county needs a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for the facility, which handles about 3 million to 5 million gallons of sewage a day. It serves about 40,000 people.
But Victorino is fighting that decision and has succeeded in getting the case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Environmentalists are concerned that the court’s decision would gut the Clean Water Act, a situation that would have implications far beyond Hawaii.