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Enforcing the Clean Water Act on Kaua'i

12 • 17 • 2019

Enforcing the Clean Water Act on Kaua'i

Surfrider Foundation Kaua'i Chapter is dedicated to protecting water quality on the west side of Kaua’i.

Surfrider Foundation Kaua'i Chapter has taken action to protect coastal water quality from violations of the Clean Water Act by the state agency Agribusiness Development Corporation (“ADC”). In May 2016, Surfrider and other local Kaua’i groups filed a Notice of Intent to sue the ADC. ADC’s activities, which include discharging drainage waters in western Kaua'i without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, are responsible for harming important water resources and habitat. This case is an effort to protect the treasured Barking Sands Beach and waters on the west side of Kaua’i. Surfrider is represented by attorneys at Earthjustice's Hawaii office.

After a successful ruling on the motion for summary judgment on the Clean Water Act claim in July 2019, the ADC joined co-plaintiffs in settlement negotiations to address the water quality violations.  Community groups Na Kia‘i Kai, Surfrider Foundation, and Pesticide Action Network—represented by Earthjustice—and the State of Hawai‘i’s Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) entered into an agreement on December 17, 2019 in federal court to address ADC’s ongoing violations of the federal Clean Water Act in West Kauaʻi.

The agreement, which the parties have reached in principle and will formalize in the coming months, provides for:

  • a six-month deadline for ADC to apply for an NPDES permit to regulate, limit, and monitor pollution from the drainage ditches;
  • prompt implementation by ADC of a robust water quality monitoring program (for pesticides, toxicity, heavy metals, petroleum, bacteria, and sediment) and best-management practices to reduce contamination; 
  • regular disclosure of water quality data on a public website;
  • a prohibition against increasing discharges from the drainage ditches until ADC secures an NPDES permit; and
  • the community groups’ ability to go back to court if ADC does not secure a permit within two-and-a-half years.