A federal judge ruled Maui County, Hawaii, must get permits to operate injection wells which are polluting the ocean.
According to The Honolulu Star Advertiser, several environmental groups filed a lawsuit in 2012 over the injection wells, alleging that effluent from the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility was entering the ocean, damaging coral reefs and sea life.
According to USA Today News, the environmental groups cited studies using dyes to trace the flow showed more than half the discharge from two wells was entering the ocean in a narrow area.
In a ruling July 15, U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway ordered Maui County to “obtain a permit under the Clean Water Act consistent with the analysis established by the Supreme Court,” reported The Maui News.
Maui County officials refused to settle the case, bringing it to the Supreme Court in 2019, reported The Honolulu Star Advertiser. In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court said that the discharge of polluted water in the ground does not relieve an industry of complying with the Clean Water Act.
According to the county, treated wastewater from injection wells did not require permits under the Clean Water Act because the discharge did not go directly into the ocean.
The Supreme Court in April 2020 ruled that injection wells fall under the Clean Water Act, reported The Honolulu Star Advertiser.
According to Maui County Communications Director Brian Perry, the county is disappointed in the ruling “but prides itself on its environmental stewardship that began decades ago when its leaders made the decision to focus on water reclamation and reuse rather than ocean outfalls,” reported Herald & Review.