Stop pollution of Maui coral reefs

Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 2/27/2019 

The Clean Water Act (CWA), which took shape during the early 1970s, bans the dumping of pollutants directly into surface waters, ranging from wetlands and rivers to oceans. Whether the federal law’s prohibition also should apply to indirect dumping that has the same effect is a matter expected to go before the nation’s highest court later this year. 

At the center of the debate is Maui’s Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility, which injects a daily average of at least 3 million gallons of treated sewage into groundwater that flows toward the ocean. 

Last March, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Maui County has been violating the CWA since the facility’s operations started in the early 1980s. Maui County appealed to the Supreme Court; if it wins, the impacts for water pollution rules nationwide could be huge. 

That would be an unfortunate outcome: In Maui, the scientific evidence demonstrates that treated sewage dumped into injection wells is seeping into the ocean, killing coral and triggering algae blooms. 

In 2011, amid growing concerns about proliferating algae blooms that smother reefs and other degradation, University of Hawaii scientists initiated a tracer-dye study that conclusively linked treatment- plant discharge with tainted near-shore waters. And last year, U.S. Geological Survey research found that discharge from injection wells — positioned about a half-mile from the shoreline — has been drastically undermining the area for years. 

The 9th Circuit’s opinion against Maui rightly concluded: “At bottom, this case is about preventing the county from doing indirectly that which it cannot do directly.” Under federal law, a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit is needed to dispose of the wastewater in ocean waters. 

In 2018, another appellate court interpreted the law in the opposite way. In a Kentucky case, pollutants from coal ash retention ponds seeped into groundwater that fed waterways. The 6th Circuit Court ruled that only pollutants added directly to navigable bodies of water are regulated under the law. 

The split in opinion helped pave the way for the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the Maui case, in which the county asserts that because it’s not directly pouring pollutants into near-shore waters, no NPDES permit is needed. 

The county contends that from its perspective, West Maui’s coral is generally in healthy condition, with sites including Kahekili — downstream from the wastewater facility — tagged as “pristine.” The county maintains that groundwater regulation should be handled as a “home-rule” issue as pollution- related challenges vary from place to place. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, seems to support this take. And it’s a given that if the Supreme Court reverses the 9th Circuit’s ruling, supporters of President Donald Trump’s efforts to roll back the Obama era’s stepped-up environmental regulation likely will cheer a perceived correction of federal overreach. 

But in this case, amid growing concerns tied to climate change and ocean acidification, weaker federal law would open a door to potentially accelerating pollutionrelated troubles here and elsewhere. That would be a step backward for environmental stewardship, but it’s a possibility due to the current makeup of the high court. 

Earthjustice, which is representing Maui community groups — Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club-Maui Group, Surfrider Foundation and West Maui Preservation — in the ongoing legal debate, has rightly pointed out that we could see industries quickly assuming effective free rein to discharge pollutants indirectly into the nation’s waterways. 

It’s disappointing that Maui is continuing to side-step the pollution problem. If politics prevails over science in a ruling from the Supreme Court, heightened vigilance in safeguarding Hawaii’s near-shore ecosystems from landbased sources of pollution will fall squarely on county and state governments. 

Welcome our new Group Manager, Kecia

Please extend a warm welcome to our new Maui Group Manager, Kecia Joy! For over thirty years Kecia Joy has been a dedicated environmentalist, marine biologist, educator, and wellness

practitioner with experience as team leader, director, and co-creator of innovative projects. She aspires to serve the planet with integrity through the journey of inner growth and a profound connection to the natural world.

Kecia strives to be a catalyst for the change we yearn to see in the world and is passionate about the environment—especially water! As Director of Education at the Maui Ocean Center, Pacific Whale Foundation, and Roundhouse Lab & Aquarium in California, she has created hundreds of educational programs, trainings, workshops, and leadership courses, and enjoys teaching and lecturing internationally. As a guide and mentor for the next generation of activists who will take a stand (and the action necessary) for a sustainable future, Kecia holds a vision for a thriving community and a healed world.

Kecia has a deep respect and reverence for Hawaiian culture, traditions, and practices. It is Kecia’s “highest honor to collaborate with all in our collective mission to protect and preserve the environment while bridging traditional teachings with new sustainable technologies.” Kecia is a roll up your sleeves and get it done kind of person. As our new Sierra Club Maui Director, you will find Kecia on the trails, in our legislative offices, leading activities and events, and much more.

With a vision of humanity in peaceful partnership with the land and sea, she aspires to co-create a blueprint for a sustainable Maui as a living example to the world of peace and aloha.

Outings Schedule for July-September 2018

Please register for all hikes with the leader listed in the description. Bring lunch, water, rain gear, sunscreen, and appropriate footwear. Hiking boots are recommended for longer hikes. A donation of $5 ($3 for Sierra Club members) is requested of hikers over age 14 except where otherwise indicated.
Hike description key: (C) conservation focus, such as discussing how to conserve this land for future generations to enjoy; (E) educational, such as visiting and learning about archeological sites and naming the plants and flowers; (S) service outing (no donation requested), (D) round trip hike distance.
We always welcome more hike leaders! Contact sierraclubmauigroup@gmail.com if you are interested.
Check bit.ly/SCH-Maui-Outdoors for updates to the schedule.

If hike description states EMI waiver is required:
East Maui Irrigation Company (EMI) allows access to their trails as long as each hiker has a waiver. An EMI waiver is absolutely required for EMI hikes. One waiver covers all EMI hikes for this quarter. Call in your waiver request at 579-9515 well in advance to make an appointment to sign it. Then go to EMI’s Pāʻia office at 497 Baldwin Avenue to sign the waiver. It is open Monday 11am-3pm and Friday 8am-1pm. Waivers cannot be mailed, faxed, or emailed. Please be considerate of EMI staff time and pick up the waiver 5 days in advance whenever possible. The waiver must be brought on the hike and shown to the hike leader.

Friday, July 6
Palauʻea Mauka (Wailea 670) Hike (C/E)
South Maui, 2-3 miles

Help discover rare native plant clusters in the Wailea 670 Preserve and enjoy stunning mountain and ocean views. Meet 3pm at top of Kaukahi Road in Wailea. Long pants recommended/sturdy closed shoes a must Limit 15. Leader: Lucienne de Naie, laluzmaui@gmail.com or 214-0147

Saturday, July 14
Chapter Retreat at Hale Akua Farm

Saturday, July 21
Pauwalu Bird Sanctuary and fish ponds (C/E)
Keʻanae 2.5 miles
Coastal hike through historically rich area with spectacular views. Bring water, lunch/snack, sun and rain protection. Hiking down a steep slope to the fish ponds is optional and includes plastic cleanup on the beach. Meet 9AM at Haiku Community Center. Limit 20. Leader: Rob Weltman <robw@worldspot.com> or 354-0490

Saturday, July 28
Hāmākua Mālama Day (C/E/S)
Ha‘ikū, 4 miles
Monthly community service outing to remove trash and keep coastal trails open on 267 acres of Hamakua lands purchased by Maui County. Bring gloves/hand tools/water/hat/lunch/ sturdy shoes. Meet 9am at Ha‘ikū Community Center. Limit 15. Leader: Lucienne de Naie <laluzmaui@gmail.com> or 214-0147

Sunday, July 29
Makawao Forest Reserve, lower forest ramble (C/E)
Makawao, 4-5 miles
Moderate hike hike through big tree forest, shaded all the way and mostly level. Meet in the parking lot across from St. Joseph’s Church on Makawao Ave at 9:30 am. Leader Kalei Johnson <kalei1908@gmail.com> or 344-0006; leave your phone number.

Friday, August 3
Waikapū Stream Trail Work/Hike and Swim (S/C/E)
Central Maui, 3 miles
Easy trail clearing along trail to Waikapū stream, followed by a short hike to a “secret valley” and swim. Water-friendly footwear required. Bring loppers, small saws, cane knives, gloves, water, lunch/snack. Meet 9am Maui Tropical Plantation parking lot south end. Limit 18. Contact Hike Leader: Lucienne de Naie, laluzmaui@gmail.com or 214-0147. Assistant leader Robin West.

Saturday, August 4
Nā Hōkū – Star Watch at Waikapū Tropical Plantation slopes (C/E) Come spend an evening with astronomer Harriet Witt and learn about the lore of our Hawaiian night sky. Bring a beach chair, blanket, and flashlight. Meet at 6:45 pm at the entrance to the parking lot. Light pupus will be served. Special Event: $5 for members, $10 non-members. Register with Rob Weltman <robw@worldspot.com> or 354-0490

Saturday, August 11
Honolua snorkel, Lipoa point hike (C/E)
Honolua, 3 miles
Explore Honolua Valley and Lipoa Point w/ Hawaiian cultural sites, amazing views and a chance to swim in the bay. Bring hat, sunscreen, water and lunch/snacks, swimwear. Meet 8am Maui Ocean Center parking lot across from Carls Jr. to carpool. Limit 12. Leader: Miranda Camp <mauimiranda@hotmail.com>

Saturday, August 18
Wailea 670 Hike, Western section native plant preserve
South Maui, 2 miles
Visit magnificent stone walls and prominent cultural complexes in Wailea 670 preserve, and help take pix of rare native plants. Rugged terrain. Closed shoes/boots, long pants and good balance a must. Bring water, hiking stick, cameras. Meet 3 pm at top of Kaukahi Rd in Wailea. Limit 18. Leader: Lucienne de Naie and cultural guide. Register: laluzmaui@gmail.com or 214-0147

Saturday, August 25
Hāmākua Mālama Day (C/E/S)
Ha‘ikū, 4 miles
Monthly community service outing to remove trash and keep coastal trails open on 267 acres of Hāmākua lands purchased by Maui County. Bring gloves/hand tools/water/hat/lunch/ sturdy shoes. Meet 9am at Ha‘ikū Community Center. Limit 15. Leader: Lucienne de Naie <laluzmaui@gmail.com> or 214-0147

Sunday, August 26
Hanawi Stream Hike (C/E)
Nahiku Area, 4 miles
Strenuous. Pools with waterfalls, native stream life. Numerous stream crossings and hiking on slippery rocks in the stream. Good water footwear a must. Meet 8:30 a.m. at Haiku Community center. EMI waiver required (see above). Limit 15. Leader: Miranda Camp <mauimiranda@hotmail.com>

Sunday, September 2
Haleakalā Supply Trail (C/E)
Haleakalā, 3.5 miles
Intermediate, but high altitude. Beautiful views along trail. Leave cars at Hosmer’s Grove campground and shuttle up to hike down from Halemauʻu at the crater rim (8,000’). Prepare for wet/windy conditions. Meet 8:00 a.m. Pukalani Terrace Shopping Center near Ace Hardware. Wear footwear for rocky conditions. Bring hat, jacket, lunch, plenty of water, and a park pass (if you have). A hiking stick may be useful. Leader: Kalei Johnson <kalei1908@gmail.com> or 344-0006; leave your phone number.

Friday, September 7
Olowalu Shoreline (C/E)
Olowalu, 2.5 miles
Victory hike! Celebrate the natural Olowalu coastline, once proposed for hundreds of condos and commercial development. Learn about Olowalu’s rich history and enjoy a swim or snorkel.
Meet 8:30 am at 14 mi mkr, ocean side of Honoapiʻilani Hwy. Limit 20. Leader: Miranda Camp <mauimiranda@hotmail.com>

Sunday, September 9
Wailea 670 Historic Kanaio-Kalama Trail Hike (C/E)
South Maui, 3 miles
Explore ancient shelters along this historic road in Wailea 670 preserve. Rugged terrain. Closed shoes/boots, long pants and good balance a must. Bring water, hiking stick, cameras. Meet 3 pm at top of Kaukahi Rd in Wailea. Limit 18. Leader: Lucienne de Naie with guidance by Hawaiian cultural practitioners. Leader: Lucienne de Naie <laluzmaui@gmail.com> or 214-0147

Tuesday, September 18
Merwin Palm Forest (C/E)
Hāʻikū, 1 mile
This is a unique opportunity to visit one of the most diverse palm collections in the world. The once-barren former pineapple land was restored by one of America’s greatest living poets – W.S. Merwin – into a lush, 19 acre property, with over 2,740 individual palm trees, more than 400 taxonomic species, and 125 unique genera. We will meet up to car pool at 9AM. The location will be communicated to the participants. The Merwin Conservancy staff will be our guides. Bring water and closed-toe, sturdy shoes. Long sleeve shirts, long pants and DEET-free mosquito repellent are recommended. Limit: 15. Leader: Rob Weltman <robw@worldspot.com> or 354-0490.

Thursday, September 27
Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge
Keālia, 1 mile
Come and see a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds and hear an overview about the refuge. Meet 9:00 am at the refuge office (turn into driveway at mile post 6 on Mokulele/Maui Veterans Highway and follow the road for 1/2 mile to the office). Bring binoculars, suitable closed toe shoes for mud and water, sun protection, water. Limit 20. Leader: Rob Weltman <robw@worldspot.com> or 354-0490

Saturday, September 29
Hāmākua Mālama Day (C/E/S)
Ha‘ikū, 2 miles
Monthly community service outing to remove trash and keep coastal trails open on 267 acres of Hāmākua lands purchased by Maui County. Bring gloves/hand tools/water/hat/lunch/ sturdy shoes. Meet 9am at Ha‘ikū Community Center. Limit 15. Leader: Lucienne de Naie <laluzmaui@gmail.com> or 214-0147

The Maui News: Suit challenges EIS approval for wastewater plant

Suit challenges EIS approval for wastewater plant

Anaergia aims to install anaerobic digester to produce methane gas

The Maui News

The Sierra Club Maui Group and Maui Tomorrow have filed a lawsuit challenging the approval of an environmental impact statement for Anaergia Services’ project with Maui County for a renewable energy conversion and sludge processing project at the Wailuku-Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility.

The project led by Anaergia’s Maui All Natural Alternative aims to install an anaerobic digester to produce methane gas from energy crops grown on 500 acres of former Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. lands. The gas would be refined at the Kahului wastewater facility site and fuel a combined heat-and-power engine to generate electricity for the treatment plant located on 18.8 acres next to the ocean on Amala Place.

Waste heat from the engine would dry wastewater solid matter, known as “sludge.”

Undried sludge has been used for years as raw material for Maui EKO Systems to create compost at the Central Maui Landfill. Without the sludge, EKO is expected to go out of business.

According to the plaintiffs’ announcement of the lawsuit, the project entails trucking sludge from wastewater facilities in Kihei and Lahaina to the Kahului facility to be dried using methane gas byproducts of the plant’s anaerobic digestion project.

The announcement says that Anaergia was the sole bidder for the project. Anaergia holds a county waste-to-energy landfill gas contract, which an independent auditor determined would cost the county $35 million more than anticipated, the plaintiffs said.

The groups challenge Anaergia’s preparation of the environmental impact statement, as opposed to the county, “for reasons including the county’s unwritten policy of imposing less-strict oversight over projects for which they have outside entities prepare an EIS.”

They also contend the environmental review failed to adequately consider predicted sea-level rise.

“Taxpayers should not be burdened with underwriting complicated science experiments that will only cost taxpayers more money and likely do nothing to protect the environment,” said Maui Tomorrow Executive Director Albert Perez. “Maui County needs to move forward, not backward, by getting the Kahului treatment facility out of the tsunami zone and away from sea-level rise.”

Sierra Club Maui Group President Rob Weltman said: The “Sierra Club is very much in favor of increasing the use of renewable energy, including microgrids for specific purposes. However, it must be done in a responsible way which does not result in new threats to our sensitive shoreline environment.”

There was no immediate comment Thursday afternoon from Maui County or Anaergia.

County officials have said Anaergia would develop the facility at no construction cost to the county. In return, the county would pay 29 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity produced at the plant. The cost of disposing the sludge would be reduced from $103 to $80 per ton by switching from EKO Compost to Anaergia, officials said.

Built in 1973, the wastewater treatment plant can treat up to 7.9 million gallons of Central Maui wastewater daily. The plant is forecast to reach its treatment capacity by 2030.

Press Release: COMMUNITY GROUPS CHALLENGE EIS FOR PROPOSED KAHULUI SLUDGE FARM AND POWER PLANT

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Immediate Release: May 31, 2018

Contact: Lance D. Collins (808) 243-9292 lawyer@maui.net

 

COMMUNITY GROUPS CHALLENGE EIS
FOR PROPOSED KAHULUI SLUDGE FARM AND POWER PLANT

 

KAHULUI, MAUI – The Sierra Club Maui Group and Maui Tomorrow are challenging Maui County and Anaergia Services’ proposed sludge farm and power plant along the Kahului shoreline by filing a lawsuit in Maui’s Environmental Court today. The groups are represented by attorney Lance D. Collins.

The groups challenge the County Environmental Management Director’s approval of an environmental impact statement (EIS) for Anaergia’s proposed sludge processing, energy generation, and biocrop growing/burning project. Under the proposal, sludge from wastewater treatment facilities at Kīhei, Lahaina, and the Wailuku-Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility
(Kahului Wastewater Facility) would be trucked to a site at the Kahului Wastewater Facility and dried using methane gas byproducts of the anaerobic digestion of “biocrops” grown on 500 acres of former sugar cane lands, with additional energy from a propane burner. This process is also proposed to generate electricity for the Kahului Wastewater Facility.

The project was first proposed through a county procurement. Anaergia was the sole bidder in that process. Anaergia also currently holds a County waste-to energy landfill gas contract, which an independent auditor determined will cost the County $35 million more than anticipated when procured. The community groups challenge Anaergia’s preparation of the EIS, as opposed to the County, for reasons including the County’s unwritten policy of imposing less strict oversight over projects for which they have outside entities prepare an EIS.

The groups also challenged the failure to adequately consider sea level rise predictions. Maui Tomorrow Executive Director, Albert Perez commented, “Taxpayers should not be burdened with underwriting complicated science experiments that will only cost taxpayers more money and likely do nothing to protect the environment. Maui County needs to move forward, not backward, by getting the Kahului treatment facility out of the tsunami zone and away from sea level rise.”

The Kahului Wastewater Facility’s precarious location was specifically called out in the State’s Sea Level Rise Adaptation Report, published in December 2017. “Sierra Club is very much in favor of increasing the use of renewable energy, including in microgrids for specific purposes,” said Rob Weltman, president of Sierra Club Maui Group. “However, it must be done in a responsible way which does not result in new threats to our sensitive shoreline environment.”

The proposal will result in nearly 3,130 tons per year of dried sludge and nearly 30,000 tons per year of biocrop byproduct “digestate,” but the EIS does not indicate how the County will dispose of them.

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Tuesday, April 10th: Flatbread Pizza Benefit & Silent Auction

 

Come out Tuesday, April 10th to support Sierra Club Maui during Earth Month!

A proceed of all pizzas bought at Flatbread Pizza in Paʻia between 4 pm – close will be donated to Sierra Club Maui (eat in or take out). And check out our great silent auction items! Item list below –

 

Silent Auction Items Available
(Auction open from 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm)

Experiences
– 2 round trip tickets to Lana’i (Value $120)
– Ticket for 2 on Atlantis Submarine adventure (Value $260)
– Tickets to Maui Film Festival in June (Value $12-25)
– 2 tours of Maui Brewing Co. in Kihei (Value $30.00)
– Gift cert from Cross Fit Maui at Ma’alaea
– Hike with Sierra Club Maui Hike Leader Lucienne De Naie

Artwork and Lifestyle Items
– Backpack (Linked Pack 28L) and rolling duffel suitcase from Patagonia (Value $160 / 360)
– Jellyfish glass piece by Chris Richards (Value $380)
– Hand carved gourd with traditional Marquesans designs (made of coconut and sea grass fiber trim) Artist: Neola Caveny of Huelo (Value: $200)
– Beautiful potted plant donated by Jeanne Schaaf
– New folding bike from Ride Smart (Value $550.00)

And more!