On July 9, 2019, The Kauai Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation celebrated a court ruling to address ongoing water quality violations along Kauaʻi’s West Side, including Polihale State Park and Kekaha Beach Park. The Surfrider Foundation, along with partners Na Kia‘i Kai and Pesticide Action Network and represented by Earthjustice, sued the State of Hawaii's Agribusiness Development Corporation (“ADC”) for violating the Clean Water Act (“CWA”). The lawsuit was brought to address ADC's failure to seek a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit (“NPDES”) for discharges of polluted water that reach the Pacific Ocean and contaminate the nearshore ocean waters of west Kaua‘i.
ADC manages 12,500 acres of agricultural lands in the former sugar plantation area of Kekaha that includes two surface water irrigation ditch systems and forty miles of unlined, earthen drainage ditches. These ditches add pesticide-laden sediment to the watershed, leading to murky brown waters along Barking Sands and MacArthur beaches. Prior to the lawsuit, the state agency allowed the discharging of millions of gallons of waters contaminated with pesticides, sediment, and heavy metals from the drainage ditch system it operates on the Mānā Plain. The affected Mānā Plain borders the Pacific Ocean for approximately nine miles and the adjacent ocean waters are used extensively for recreation, including fishing, swimming, surfing, and boating. The court ruled that ADC is violating the Clean Water Act for discharges from the drainage ditches. The ruling futher requires that ADC must obtain a permit, limit pollution levels, and begin extensive water quality testing.
This clean water victory furthers Surfrider Foundation's mission of ensuring clean oceans, surf spots, and beaches.