Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Maui taxpayers could face huge bill for public administration errors in disposing of wastewater illegally
by Larry Geller
Maui taxpayers could find themselves responsible for a huge fine as a result of poor decisions by their county government. Yes, bad public administration can cost.
Because the county chose to dispose of wastewater that was only partially treated via four seaside wells, it was found to have violated the Clean Water Act.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway ruled Friday the county released wastewater through injection wells numbered 1 and 2 without a permit.
Mollway already ruled in June the county violated the law by releasing wastewater through wells 3 and 4.
The plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed over the wastewater say high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous in the effluent are triggering invasive algae outbreaks that are killing coral.
Earthjustice attorney David Henkin says the county could be fined more than $100,000 for each day it has used the injection wells going back to 2007.
[KITV (AP), Judge finds Maui County breaking law with Lahaina wastewater, 1/27/2015]
Of course, we don’t yet know what the fine might be—it could be zero. But it could be huge, at $100,000 per day since 2007.
Maui taxpayers should decide how to handle this. It is they who will pay, not the public officials who made bad decisions along the way. Or not. One way or another, if there is a fine, the county will take it out of their wallets or purses.