Today, Maui Time’s feature article covers our study and includes an interview with Mailea Miller-Pierce!
The County of Maui’s violation of the Clean Water Act by discharging millions of gallons of wastewater into injection wells in West Maui is widely known. The judge’s ruling came in 2014, two years after environmental organizations filed suit, alleging that the injection wells were significantly harming coral reefs in the Lahaina area–most notably, at Honolua Bay and Kahekili Beach (Old Airport Beach). In fact, studies have shown that coral at Honolua has decreased by an astonishing 76 percent since 1995, while other research has shown that because of freshwater seeps just offshore of Kahekili, a great deal of wastewater floats to the surface at that beach, which is very popular with locals and tourists alike.
What hasn’t gotten so much attention is that the county also uses injection wells at its wastewater treatment facilities in Kahului and Kihei–and a new study published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin shows that the South Maui waste plume dwarfs anything found in West Maui.
“Focus on the Lahaina facility has brought a lot of attention to the ecological and environmental issues going on in West Maui, which is positive, but after we looked at these data, we were blown away at how much higher the impairments are near Kihei,” said study co-author Mailea Miller-Pierce in a Feb. 25 news release on her new journal article. “When looking at these results, it is shocking that so little attention has been paid to Kihei. Hopefully some of the focus will shift in the near future.”