3-4-10: Fifth Meeting of Community Working Group on Wastewater: Scheduled from 1:30-4:30 pm at Velma McWayne Santos Community Center, 395 Waena Place, Wailuku, HI 96793. Public welcome.
2-21-10: DIRE Publishes Briefing Paper on Wastewater Injection Wells and Water Reuse: You can find the complete briefing paper by clicking here.
2-10-10: Maui News Article — “Group: DIRE need for injection wells action”
2-4-10: DIRE Coalition Announces Formation of Citizens’ Initiative to Supplement the Work of the Community Working Group
For more information on how you can help make the plan for Maui to phase out injection wells, improve wastewater treatment, and reclaim and reuse our water, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Send your name and contact information and a representative of DIRE coalition will contact you about how you can help.
2-3-10: Fourth Meeting of Community Working Group on Water Reuse
1-4-10: Third Meeting of Community Working Group on Water Reuse
12-3-09: Second Meeting of Community Work Group on Water Reuse Held Dec. 3:
The second meeting of the Community Work Group on Water Reuse was held Dec. 3 from 1:30-4:30 at the Kahului Community Center.
10-29-09: First Meeting of Community Work Group on Wastewater Reuse: Public Welcome
The first meeting of a 20+ person “Community Work Group” appointed by Mayor Tavares was held October 29, 2009 in the Planning Commission Conference Room, 250 S. High St., Wailuku from 1:30-4:30. The purpose of this Work Group is to figure out how to achieve the Mayor’s goal for ending injection wells and reusing all the wastewater.
10-9-09: Upcoming Na Wai Eha Streams Decision Highlights Need for Wastewater Reclamation and Reuse
The conflict between kuleana land holders and taro growers on the one hand and HC&S and its employees on the other grows sharper as the drought continues and as the decision of the state Water Resources Management Commission hearing officer grows closer. Must we face the choice between failing to rectify a long standing wrong (and protecting the aina) or loss of more agricultural jobs on Maui?
Wastewater reclamation and reuse by itself probably cannot resolve this conflict, but it might be significant contribution to a solution. Why discard useful irrigation water down injection wells when that same water with appropriate treatment could both support Maui agriculture and free up diverted water for stream-flow restoration? Supporting the Mayor’s goal to reuse all our wastewaters seems like one part of the potential solution that needs to be explored as soon as possible.
8-27-09: Lahaina News Editorial Urges “Get Rid of Injection Wells”
The Lahaina News today took a strong stance on its editorial page to end Maui County wastewater injection wells. Here are some key excerpts of that editorial:
“Every day, an average of 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 gallons of treated sewage is dumped into the ground at the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility, and one million gallons is treated to R-1 quality and reused. Add that up for years, and you have billions of gallons of nutrient-rich effluent marching toward the ocean. With injection wells in use around the island, this practice is foolish on several levels. The treated wastewater pollutes the ocean, harms reefs and the nearshore environment and fuels algae blooms.”
8-21-09: EPA Sets Nutrient Water Pollution Limits in FL
“Environmental groups on Friday lauded long-awaited action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set legal limits for farm and urban runoff polluting Florida’s waterways, limits that could serve as a model for other states.
“A consent decree signed Wednesday settled a lawsuit filed last year by the Sierra Club, Florida Wildlife Federation and others against the EPA seeking to get the federal agency to set numeric standards for runoff such as fertilizers and animal waste.
“The settlement marks the first time the EPA has forced numeric limits on so-called nutrient runoff on a state. . . .
“The EPA acknowledged in a statement Friday that standards are necessary “to protect Florida waters from the impacts of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.”
“The statement said the agency will work closely with scientists from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to develop ‘scientifically defensible’ water quality standards.
“Under the settlement, the EPA has until Jan. 14 to propose the new pollution limits for Florida’s lakes, rivers and creeks, and until October 2010 to finalize the rules.
“The Sierra Club’s Cris Costello said the agreement was expected to move the EPA to set similar standards in other states.”
See the Seattle Times Article, August 21, 2009.
8-20-09: EPA Public Meeting and Public Hearing Held at Lahaina Civic Center; Comment Period Extended to Sept. 20
On Thursday, August 20, 2009, the US Environmental Protection Agency held its second public hearing on the County’s application to continue injection wastewater at the Lahaina treatment plant for 10 more years. At the hearing, all the public witnesses opposed the 10 year permit and urged EPA to create a shorter deadline for closing the wells, upgrading treatment, and reusing the wastewater on land. Mayor Tavares led off the hearing by repeating her goal of ending all County-owned injection wells and going to 100% wastewater reuse. She testified, however, that a longer period may be needed to accomplish this purpose. For more information on these meetings, see EPA’s announcement.
At the end of the hearing, EPA extended the comment period until September 21, 2009. Those wishing to submit written comment may do so by sending email to email@example.com. To see what others have written, click here.
8-2-09: Councilman Nashiki Speaks Out on the Harm Being Caused by Injection Wells and Other Land Based Pollution
In his Viewpoint piece in the Maui News today, Councilman Wayne K. Nashiki explains why he maintains an upside down Hawaiian flag on his desk in the historic “distress” signal. Specifically, he writes: “The upside-down Hawaiian flag reminds me that the Hawaiians relied upon the ocean and reef ecosystems for fishing, diving and subsistence. Today, they can only watch as once pristine reefs are being lost forever as wastewater from injection wells and other land-based pollutants continue to degrade nearshore waters and reefs.”
7-31-09: Maui Residents Urge EPA Not to Grant 10 Year Renewal of Lahaina Wastewater Injection Permit
Over 180 Maui residents wrote to EPA indicating their opposition to 10 year renewal of the County’s Lahaina wastewater injection well permit, according to the EPA website on this permit. This more than doubles the number of Mauians who attended the first Lahaina EPA public hearing to unanimously oppose granting the 10 year extension of the permit.
The opponents of the proposed 10 year extension of the permit include the former Mayor of Maui (Alan Arakawa), a former Planning Director of Maui County, the Chair of the Baui County Board of Water Supply, the President of West Maui Taxpayers Association, the Vice President of the Kula Community Association and Chair of its Water and Sustainability Committee, several physicians and marine biologists, the General Manager of Consolidated Resorts Management, and a former EPA attorney and Counsel for the House Energy Commerce Committee that created the Underground Injection Control program of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
In addition, the following groups submitted letters in opposition to the proposed permit: the West Maui Taxpayers Association, the Sierra Club of Maui, Maui Nui Marine Resources Council, the Hawaii Wildlife Fund, Maui Tomorrow Foundation, and Surfrider Foundation.
As with the previous hearing, there were no letters or emails to EPA supporting the granting of the 10 year permit renewal for wastewater injection wells at Lahaina, except for Maui County’s Department of Environmental Management. That letter alleges that “The best scientific evidence” shows that it is “not the case” that “wastewater injection wells” can be blamed for algae blooms [and harm to coral reefs].” The letter does not cite any specific studies nor list what the “the best scientific evidence” is that it is relying on. Nor does the letter discuss the concerns or scientific information cited by the Department of Lands and Natural Resources in its comments at the November 2008 hearing. Perhaps most importantly, the County Department of Environmental Management’s letter does not explain how its position in favor of a new 10 year permit with more relaxed environmental control conditions will help achieve the Mayor’s stated goal of using “all of the water that’s produced by our treatment plants and not put it down any injection wells.”
7-17-09: EPA announces August 20 Public Meeting and Public Hearing on Lahaina Wastewater Injection Well Permit
Today, EPA announced that, as the DIRE Coalition requested, it will hold a public meeting (from 4:30-6) and a separate public hearing (from 7-9 pm) on August 20, 2009, at the Lahaina Civic Center. EPA also extended the deadline for comments on the proposed permit until August 20. Click here for a full text of the notice.
7-9-09: Drought conditions worsen, says National Weather Service
"ON MAUI...SEVERE DROUGHT...OR D2 CATEGORY CONDITIONS... HAVE SPREAD FROM LEEWARD WEST MAUI INTO CENTRAL AND SOUTH SECTIONS OF THE ISLAND TO INCLUDE THE UPCOUNTRY AREA."
Santa Rosa, CA achieves 100% wastewater reuse. See how this town of over 150,000 people met its goal of 100% wastewater reuse.
6-15-09: Upcountry Sustainability requests EPA public hearing on wastewater injection permit issue
Upcountry Sustainability — a group of upcountry residents committed to building community, sharing knowledge and resources, and building a more sustainable upcountry area and a more sustainable world — submitted its request to EPA a request for a public hearing on the Lahaina wastewater injection well permit. The letter to EPA asks the Agency for the opportunity to explore the implications of that decision for adequacy of water supply on Maui.
6-12-09: Save Honolua Coalition endorses DIRE recommendations
The Save Honolua Coalition today indicated that it would support the DIRE recommendation and submit its own letter urging EPA to hold a public hearing on the newly proposed revisions to the Lahaina wastewater injection well permit.
6-11-09: Maui Nui Marine Resource Council supports DIRE recommendations
Tonight, the Maui Nui Marine Resources Council voted unanimously to support the DIRE Coalitions recommendations for a new EPA public hearing on the Lahaina wastewater injection well permit and for a phaase out of those wells in favor of reclamation and re-use on land of appropriately treated wastewaters.
Thank you, Mayor Tavares! On May 22, 2009, at the blessing ceremony for the new Dowling Makena wastewater treatment plant, you spoke plainly for clear new vision for Maui. “Our goal is to use all of the water that’s produced by our treatment plants and not put it down any injection wells. That’s our goal.”
The Mayor did not, however, use the occasion to offer a specific timetable for achieving goal or commit to specific steps to make progress towards its realization. As of today (6/19/09), the Mayor has not requested the wastewater treatment division to withdraw or amend its application for a 10 year permit to continue discarding wastewater from that plant in the injection wells or for phasing out the wells and phasing in the reuse of these waters. Let’s applaud the Mayor for the major step forward on May 22 and encourage and support her to take the next steps and establish a timetable to turn this “goal” into a “reality”.
Haleakala Times, November 12, 2008:
Maui’s message to EPA: Don’t inject, redirect
LAHAINA — Members of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 9 office flew to Maui last week to hold a public hearing on the proposed underground injection permit renewal for the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility.
More than 70 people attended, and 25 spoke in the three hours allotted. The message was unanimous: treated sewage wastewater damages reefs.
EPA was told Maui County should clean and sanitize wastewater to R-1 standards and reuse it to irrigate resort landscaping, golf courses and the dry brush areas that were once sugarcane fields. This would reduce the amount of wastewater dumped into the ground – estimated at 3 million to 5 million gallons per day – down four injection wells at the Honokowai facility, and decrease the use of potable water for irrigation in West Maui.
Dr. Lorrin Pang asked that the permit be renewed every year. He reminded EPA that “this is not the Mainland.” Hawaii is a tropical climate that needs special consideration and a permit that fits our climate.
Robin Knox, water specialist, asked for “better implementation of the programs required by existing law.”
Dan Polhemus, administrator for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources, Honolulu, wrote to EPA and asked that the following conditions be placed on the permit for the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility (LWRF): 1) All wastewater be treated to R-1 standard before being reused or injected; 2) Limit the amount of injected wastewater; 3) The federal government implement programs to fund full reuse of wastewater in Maui County. DLNR is responsible for managing living marine resources and monitoring coral reefs.
Russell Sparks, education specialist at the Division of Aquatic Resources, spoke about the loss of reefs at Kahekili Park (Airport Beach) at North Beach in Kaanapali. Sparks asked that EPA find federal funding to help pay for the cost of infrastructure to reuse the wastewater.
Hannah Bernard, president of Hawaii Wildlife Fund and cofounder of the Maui Reef Fund, asked that EPA, Maui County and the community “engage in a meaningful conversation and plan of action about how to phase out the wasteful practice of injection of these waters and instead redirect treated R-1 waters for beneficial uses, as is the state’s policy.”
Bernard cited the drought conditions from April to June 2008 that required mandatory water restrictions by the county. She added that the agricultural irrigation resource deficit in 2008 was 90 percent below normal.
In August 2008, ongoing dry conditions led to the designation of Maui County and the rest of the state as federal disaster areas by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Edward Schafer.
Bernard also cited the DLNR “Status Of Coral Reefs” study that shows a correlation between the injected sewage water and algae blooms that damage reefs. Without reefs, there can be no beaches with sand. And without beaches, the economics of Maui will be greatly diminished.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study “Economic valuation of the coral reefs in Hawaii” published in November 2002 concludes that Hawaii’s coral reefs generate $360 million a year for Hawaii’s economy. This is based on reef-related tourism and fishery activities. The overall value of the state’s 410,000 acres of potential reef area is estimated at $10 billion.
Irene Bowie, executive director of Maui Tomorrow, stated, “The 2007 Water Use Plan states that the county’s policy is to promote water conservation.” The Maui Tomorrow Foundation requested that EPA set a plan of action and timeline to clean and reuse wastewater to irrigate parks, community gardens and greenbelts to free up clean drinking water now being used for those purposes.
The LWRF currently recycles one million gallons per day of treated wastewater for reuse by a nearby golf course, pineapple company and construction contractors.
As a marine educator and conservationist, Liz Foote shared her concerns over “public safety in terms of both waterborne pathogens and fire hazards.”
She added that as Maui’s population continues to grow, “water resources will become more and more overtaxed, and the current method of dealing with ‘wastewater’ is really a waste of water that could be redirected for other purposes.”
Meghan Dailor, marine biologist, testified that University of Hawaii studies show that sewage wastewater from injection wells feeds algae that smothers and kills reefs.
Howard Hanzawa, vice president of Kaanapali Land Management Corporation, shared in a letter that because “Maui’s beaches are a resource of tremendous importance to the tourist industry and for local recreational use, assurances are needed that negative impacts will not occur at our near shore waters.”
Hanzawa continued, “Wastewater treated to R-1 standard can be reused for Maui farmers who have been impacted by drought. There should be a schedule to increase the UV treatment of wastewater for reuse, while reducing the need to inject wastewater into the ground.”
In late October, Pacific Whale Foundation asked the candidates to state their position on wastewater injection wells in Maui County. Council members Jo Anne Johnson, Wayne Nishiki and Gladys Baisa all agreed that injection wells are not the best solution.
Johnson advocated that “all new subdivisions should be required to reuse water, and we should find a way to get this water to those in the farming community who need it, rather than just dumping.” Baisa wants to see a partnership between private businesses and government to raise funding to establish the infrastructure reuse wastewater.
“We can amend our laws to enable us to raise water rates a little for this purpose. We can require business to contribute as part of the entitlement process,” she said.
One of Nishiki’s priorities is to “reuse all our treated wastewater. This is a win-win. It provides jobs, it frees up more water and it helps prevent reef degradation.”
EPA will make a final decision regarding the proposed federal permit renewal after all comments and recommendations have been considered. The agency will send a response to comments and a notice of its decision to each person who submitted comments.
Within 30 days after the final permit decision has been issued, any person who filed comments on the draft permit, participated in any public hearing on this matter, or takes issue with any changes in the draft permit may petition the Environmental Appeals Board to review any condition of the permit decision. If no comments request a change in the draft permit, it will become effective immediately upon issuance to the county.