Dairy poses threats to environment and economy

I have been told that the Ulupono Board of Directors will soon be voting on options regarding the dairy being built in Mahaulepu Valley on the South Shore of Kauai. I sincerely hope that one of the options will be cancellation of the project or at least moving the project elsewhere.

On your website you say you want to act as a catalyst for change. This project will certainly do that, but it will not be a positive change. An experimental, industrial sized dairy next to a highly developed world renowned visitor destination area, as well as next to a pristine undeveloped area designated in a National Park survey as worthy of preservation is an extremely poor choice of location.

Your dairy poses a serious threat to both the environment and economy of the South Shore of Kauai and to the larger economy of the whole island. The economic impact on the town of Koloa and resort area of Poipu will be great. Thousands live and work here and the resorts pay millions to the county in taxes. The likely smell and flies from the waste of 2,000 cows will drive visitors away leading to a drop in sales, layoffs and declining property values, all of which will be harmful to investors, owners, workers, businesses and residents alike.

There is concern about waste runoff from the HDF dairy farm, highly probable with the clay soils and known rainfall in Mahaulepu Valley, which threatens nearby wells (Koloa F and C), streams, (Waiopili and Waiulaau), the ocean and beloved coral reefs (To learn about the threatened adjacent natural area go to the website: www.malama-mahaulepu.org). The methane gas from the HDF cows will contribute to global warming in an amount similar to a small coal burning generator.

Most existing dairies are much smaller with 200-300 cows. Two of the largest dairies on the Big Island have only 650 and 850 cows. The newest one planned there projects 300 to 400 cows on 1,400 acres of pasture. Mr. Fairweather of Dairy Solutionz says to be profitable, a New Zealand-style dairy would be 1,000 cows but the cows would need 1,000 acres. HDF is planning 2,000 cows on less than 500 acres. At a public meeting, HDF could not identify any existing dairy this size on so few acres. The project is both experimental and too large, as well as poorly located.

Your website states that you value open communication, transparency and learning. We have received no information regarding smell (except anecdotal hard- to- believe statements that is just won’t smell) or fly abatement or runoff pollution prevention. The latest Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan recently submitted to the Hawaii Department of Health was stamped confidential and, when released, was heavily redacted. Ulupono and HDF actions so far have appeared to be in secret and adversarial in nature towards the community. Would it not be better to accept community input and work on collaborative solutions?

The dairy as currently planned will do damage to both the environment and economy. Surely that does not meet the goals or vision of the Ulupono Board of Directors. Surely you do not want that to be your legacy or the outcome of your investment? Please re-consider your project and either cancel it or move to another location and make it smaller.

Sara DeZerega is a resident of Koloa.

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