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Kauai bottled water company warned to shut down

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LIHUE >> A Kauai water bottling and distribution company continues to operate, even though it’s been seven months since the state Supreme Court ruled against it.

The high court in February sided with the county and struck down a 2008 circuit court ruling that the Kauai Planning Commission exceeded its jurisdiction in denying Kauai Springs Inc. permits to operate.

Attorneys representing the county have sent the Koloa-based company a cease-and-desist order, warning that if the company doesn’t shut down, it could face fines of up to $10,000 per day and possible prosecution, the Garden Island reported Monday.

The ruling is based on Hawaii’s public trust doctrine to conserve and protect natural resources, including water, which says, “All public natural resources are held in trust by the state for the benefit of the people.”

Kauai Springs has a long-term agreement with the private Knudsen Trust to obtain water from a spring at the base of Mount Kahili. The pipeline that brings the water to the company’s bottling facility in Koloa is owned by Grove Farm.

Reached by The Associated Press on Monday, owner Jim Satterfield declined to comment until a news conference planned for next week. The company’s website touts its water as being rated the best-tasting in Hawaii by the American Water Works Association.

In 2007, the county planning commission denied permits for the company, which then sued the commission. In 2008, 5th Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe ordered the county to issue the permits.

Councilman Mel Rapozo said the county needs to put some teeth behind the Supreme Court ruling and stop Kauai Springs from illegally using the island’s natural resources.

“I think the public needs to know,” he said. “Are we going to fine them? Are we going to just send them letters? I mean, if it’s this landmark decision, we should be prosecuting.”

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