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Brown water plume indicator of trouble

On March 11, 2017, TGI reported “High bacteria counts in Waiopili Stream raise questions about dairy.”

Recent high fecal bacteria results detected by DOH at 12 locations, beginning at the top of HDF’s site, down to the ocean, confirm that adding cows and untreated manure cannot be good. As reported by TGI, an extensive ditch network drains HDF’s site to the ocean via the Waiopili.

Why were these test results so significant, because after millions of gallons of rainfall the dilution did not take care of the pollution? The greatest pollution was found in the center of the HDF property. There is little question about the severity of this pollution. In July of 2016, the EPA told the Department of Health that warning signs “must” be posted because of significant health risks.

In comments to TGI, HDF suggests that community resources would be better spent to determine the cause of the pollution than objecting to HDF. The community does not have access to the dairy site and its resources do not compare to HDF billionaire owner, Pierre Omidyar. Rather, why isn’t billionaire owner of Grove Farm, Steve Case and lessee, Omidyar and HDF, using their resources to determine the cause of the extreme pollution on their property?

HDF’s position that its dairy would improve water quality boggles the mind. How could a large animal operation, with untreated waste left where if falls or sprayed onto pastures from their effluent holding ponds, improve the quality of water?

Many observed and photographed the brown plume running from the Waiopili, traveling with the current to Shipwreck, Brenneke and onto Poipu Beach. View photos at friendsofmahaulepu.org. Imagine if that plume had been carrying bacteria from millions of pounds of wet manure.

Initially, HDF reported that their cows would weigh 1,210 pounds and produce 143 pouds of wet manure daily. In a recent “Update” to DOH, HDF revised each cow’s expected weight to 1,200 pounds and waste to 90 pounds daily. HDF’s starting herd of 699 would produce 1.9 million pounds of wet manure monthly. If they expand the herd to 2,000, the waste would triple. HDF feels the public should look at their industrial dairy as beneficial. Really?

Is HDF’s dismay at public reaction real or feigned? Several recent letters to the editor reveal a clear objection to HDF’s industrial dairy, location. Nothing could have underscored this better than the recent winter storm. According to NOAA, Mahaulepu weather station registered 4.85 inches, March 1-2. The USGS rainfall calculator shows this added at least 75,600,000 gallons of water to the Valley floor (75 times the capacity of HDF’s effluent ponds).

In speaking with their hydrologist, NOAA confirmed that the 75-plus million gallons did not include considerable runoff from the adjacent Haupu Ridge, which HDF admits drains onto their site (FEIS Vol. 2, pdf page 273-278).

HDF proposes an earthen containment berm with vegetation. What will that create? A pool of manure and urine on top of our aquifer? What doesn’t leach into the ground water will drain into the ocean as the recent storm clearly showed.

If HDF’s FEIS proved the safety of its operation, why was it withdrawn? FOM’s data confirms: It is unsafe and a critical risk to our drinking water and the ocean to add animal manure to this valley. The natural drainage of the valley, its springs, streams and high water table make containment of dairy waste impossible.

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Bridget Hammerquist is president of Friends of Maha‘ulepu.

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