After months of unwarranted accusations that Hawaii Dairy Farms was the source of high bacteria levels in Waiopili Ditch, we are pleased the results of the state Department of Health’s sanitary survey stated, on Page 8 of the report, that “(c)urrently, there is no significant impact to the Waiopili Ditch from any activity that can be attributed to the proposed dairy.”
The facts are plainly stated and backed up by solid scientific testing, and the DOH’s further testing will help assure there is a thorough understanding of what factors impact water quality in the Mahaulepu and Poipu/Koloa Watershed.
However, there seems to still be misunderstanding surrounding the facts. First, Waiopili Ditch is not located on the farm site and is a manmade irrigation ditch, not a natural stream. Second, as stated on Page 8 of the report, “No significant grading, grubbing, or facility construction activity has occurred recently at the proposed dairy site and no cattle currently exist on the site. There is no point source discharge of pollutants into Waiopili Ditch … Currently, there is no significant impact to the Waiopili Ditch from any activity that can be attributed to the proposed dairy.”
It is also interesting to note the survey states on Page 11 that “DOH is concerned that the large number of injection wells and cesspools in the adjacent Poipu/Koloa watershed may adversely impact the waters of the Waiopili Ditch.”
We share the community’s concern over the health and safety of all water sources surrounding Mahaulepu. The DOH survey will help to inform our voluntary EIS and the dairy’s future plans. Our model for Hawaii’s first rotational-grazing, pasture-based dairy has been designed to restore soil quality and grow grass by using the manure created on the farm as natural fertilizer.
It is vital to farm operations that the nutrients stay on the farm to grow grass as a low-cost feed for the cows. Thick grass mats, vegetative buffers and deep setbacks will work to keep nutrients from reaching irrigation ditches and leaving the farm. We continue to work closely with the DOH, and other regulating entities, to monitor the water quality of the farm and ensure we are following best management practices.
Hawaii Dairy Farms continues to operate with the utmost care and commitment to the environment. This commitment is one of the reasons we chose to conduct the voluntary EIS. We look forward to the publication of the draft EIS in the near future, as well as the results of the DOH’s further studies.
We urge you to read the full report on the DOH website to learn more.
Amy Hennessey is spokeswoman for Hawaii Dairy Farms and is Ulupono’s director of communications.