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State funds to aid council efforts for Maalaea wastewater plan

Maui lawmakers have secured funds in the state budget to help move the Maalaea community away from its decadeslong reliance on injection wells, Rep. Angus McKelvey announced Friday.

For years, Maalaea residents have been discussing alternatives for dealing with wastewater in the area, including the possibility of a regional wastewater treatment plant. Last month, Maui County Council Member Kelly Takaya King proposed adding up to $9.5 million in the budget for a wastewater treatment plant, which was approved by the council’s Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee as it wraps up its budget review.

McKelvey, whose district covers West Maui, Maalaea and North Kihei, said the Legislature allocated funds to assist the council efforts, including state grant monies for the Maalaea Village Association to do surveys, data collection and preliminary engineering needed to start the process of ending the use of injection wells in the area.

In addition to the grant, state and federal lawmakers also secured $35 million for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, the source of funding used by the council.

“The CWSRF provides below-market-rate loans for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects, including wastewater collection and treatment systems, nonpoint source pollution control and decentralized wastewater treatment,” McKelvey explained in a news release Friday. “The CWSRF funds will provide a low-interest loan to the county to finance the project.”

He said the county can use the funds “despite claims to the contrary.”

King, who holds the South Maui residency seat, said the wastewater treatment plant project “is vitally important to all of Maui.”

“It will have a crucial and lasting effect on cleaning up the once pristine Maalaea Bay that is now a federally designated impaired body of water,” King said in the news release Friday.

“The holistic, regional approach of using the reclaimed water to grow native plants and edible vegetation could serve as a model for other communities in Hawaii and beyond.”

The Maui lawmaker also noted that if the Maui County administration doesn’t apply for the funds, other counties might instead.

“It is imperative to close the circle on the legislative partnership created through the Grant-In-Aid and the CWSRF funding so we can move forward to protect and restore the environment at Maalaea,” McKelvey said.

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