Waiopili contamination remains a concern

On April 5, TGI featured an article written by Amy Hennessey, Hawaii Dairy Farms’ spokesperson, claiming the Department of Health “Report refutes allegations against HDF.”

On the contrary, DOH reports many abnormal water quality test results between July 2014 and March 2015 with fecal bacteria counts as high as 28,000 colonies per 100ml of water (State limit is 130 per 100 ml). The Waiopili is the most polluted waterway on Kauai. Recent testing, in March and April, has again revealed fecal bacteria levels in Waiopili that are more than 10 times any other stream on Kauai. DOH cites several potential causes for these extreme bacteria levels, human, feral animal, storm water and disturbance of sediment in Mahaulepu (DOH Report, page 79).

Prior to 2014, the fecal bacteria in the Waiopili were not significantly elevated (see DOH website): between 2008 and 2010, the fecal bacteria levels were only 2.3 colonies per 100ml (3.3 oz) of water (up to 130 is considered acceptable). In 2011, the level rose to 254. These lower readings predate HDF’s 2014 construction activities; clearing ditches, pasture areas, drilling test wells, preparing roads, installing irrigation systems, etc. Only since 2014 have extremely high fecal bacteria levels been detected every month.

In the March 29, 2016 TGI article “Pollution Source Sought,” Ms Hennessey shared HDF’s commitment, “The important thing is we are committed to doing a project that is both environmentally and economically good for the community.”

Friends of Maha’ulepu (FOM) believes that as long as the waters of the Waiopili are seriously contaminated, adding more animal waste is not environmentally good and threatens the economy of the entire South Shore.

FOM is also concerned about our drinking water. DOH’s Report cites several drinking water concerns. “The Koloa Wells are located just to the west of the proposed dairy. A portion of the Zone C SWAP delineation for these wells intersects the western edge of the proposed dairy. This means the potential exists for the wells to capture some fraction of any contaminants that may leach from the dairy operations.” “The proposed HDF dairy in MVSW (Mahaulepu Valley Sub-Watershed) could possibly be a significant source of contamination if another hurricane should hit Kauai.” “Contamination of streams and groundwater is of great concern on Kauai due to its high aquifers.” (Report pages 42, 49 and 51 respectively)

FOM does not want to see our drinking water contaminated. This community does not need to take unnecessary risks or experience the costs of replacing our drinking water with bottled water like in Des Moines, Iowa or Flint, Michigan. That would not be “economically good for the community.” The DOH Report, Part 1, identifies cesspools from the Koloa Poipu/Waikomo Watershed as one of many potential sources for the Waiopili fecal bacteria. If the planned additional “extensive” testing confirms DOH’s suspicion, our community certainly doesn’t need to add a large cesspool to Mahaulepu.

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Bridget Hammerquist is with Friends of Mahaulepu and a Koloa resident.

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