What did we learn from HDF open house?

I don’t know about the rest of you but Thursday night’s dairy farm meeting at Koloa School cafeteria left me angry, disappointed and completely frustrated. 

I went with the hope that some of my concerns would be answered or that I would feel reassured the dairy personnel or their contractor, Group 70 International, had things under control and knew what they were doing. Instead, we received no new information but were asked to break into groups and walk to tables set up around the periphery of the room where we could have our questions “addressed.” 

Were they addressed? Not at all. Instead, Group 70 personnel stood with sharpie pens in hand, next to large white note pads and wrote down the questions people were asking. There were no answers at all. In fact, the engineer supposedly responsible for the dairy’s Waste Management Plan (WMP), was not even able to say how many cows would be grazing per paddock. How could he have been the person who “designed the WMP” as the head of Group 70 told the audience? 

A copy of the dairy’s current WMP is on friendsofmahaulepu.org. That plan specifies the number of acres in each paddock, the herd size and the plan’s design to rotate 105-115 cows per paddock. When asked the question about how many cows HDF plans to graze per acre, the engineer told all who were clustered around that he would have to “look into that.” And so it went. 

The only thing that happened was that people with black sharpies wrote down questions to be addressed, hopefully, in the draft Environmental Impact Statement at some future unspecified date. So no one heard any confirmation of the total cow waste to be produced, how the surrounding streams and nearby ocean are to be protected from contamination by runoff with irrigation or rains or storms, and we heard nothing about how this farm meets any sustainable criteria when the dairy plans to import grain and export the milk to be processed elsewhere by another company before it is fit for consumption by the public somewhere. 

The most unsettling aspect of this meeting was the fact that the Group 70 International architects and engineers seemed to be unaware of the concerns people were voicing as they made remarks like, “Oh, you’re concerned about contamination of the drinking water in the Koloa Wells, we’ll write that down.” 

As I traveled from station to station watching the faces of so many concerned members of our community I found myself wondering, “Is their ignorance feigned or real?” Neither was comforting. 

So folks, I don’t know about everyone else but the reactions I saw and experienced myself, I’d say the night was a complete bust! I invite others to do the same. We need our editor and the public to know.

Diane de Vries is a resident of Kalaheo.

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