WAILUKU >> A federal judge has ruled Maui County must get permits to operate injection wells that environmental groups said are polluting the ocean.
Several environmental groups filed a lawsuit in 2012 over the injection wells, saying effluent from the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility was entering the the ocean and damaging coral reefs and sea life.
The groups pointed to studies that traced the discharge from two wells to the ocean.
In a ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway sided with the environmental groups and ordered Maui County to “obtain a permit under the Clean Water Act consistent with the analysis established by the Supreme Court,” The Maui News reported.
Maui County officials had refused to settle the case and brought it to the Supreme Court in 2019.
The Supreme Court in April 2020 ruled that injection wells fall under the Clean Water Act.
The county argued that treated wastewater from injection wells did not require permits under the Clean Water Act because the discharge did not go directly into the ocean.
In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court said that the discharge of polluted water in the ground, rather than directly into nearby waterways, does not relieve an industry of complying with the Clean Water Act.