Thanks mayor for refusing to settle suit

Tis the season to be thankful, so thank you to Mayor Michael Victorino, Council Members Yuki Lei Sugimura, Tasha Kama, Ricki Hokama and Alice Lee for voting to seek clarification from the U.S. Supreme Court regarding injection wells. They acted in our best interests. The appellate court ruled septic tanks and cesspools, 13,400 in Maui, are subject to requirements that could cost more than $25,000 per property, plus penalties.

Earthjustice sued to extend the Clean Water Act (CWA) to groundwater-conveying pollutants from a variety of sources: injection wells, cesspools, septic systems, even the county’s recycled water program. This kind of pollution is regulated under many programs, primarily at the state level. Earthjustice insisted that private septic systems would not be affected.

The Supreme Court appeared to disagree. At the hearing, Justice Samuel Alito asked if homeowners would suddenly be liable for the CWA’s $50,000-per-day penalties if their faulty septic tanks leaked pollution that made its way into a navigable water. Justice Stephen Breyer seized on that point. “I learned in the 8th grade, and I might be wrong, that water runs downhill,” he said. “I am worried about 500 million people suddenly discovering that they have to go and apply for a permit from the EPA.”

All five council members who voted to settle and saddle property owners in their council districts with huge costs for permitting and conversion of septic systems, thanks for nothing. You drank the million-dollar Kool-Aid offered up by Earthjustice, ignoring the implications to the people you were elected to represent. You failed. No thanks earned here.

Madge Schaefer



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