Dairy to aid environment restoration

MAHA’ULEPU — Hawaii Dairy Farms will be footing part of the bill for management of stream banks, wetlands and endangered species on Waiopili Stream.

The decision is a result of a Consent Judgment Order entered by federal Judge Leslie Kobayashi on Wednesday in a Clean Water Act violation case between HDF and Friends of Maha‘ulepu. According to that order, HDF will be paying $125,000 to the Makauwahi Cave Reserve for a project to manage the area.

The deadline for HDF to give the money to Makauwahi Cave Reserve is June 15.

HDF representatives say the company is happy to put the money to a good project, and settle the Clean Water Act violation case with FOM instead of going through a lengthy and costly trial.

“Rather than spend money in a legal battle, we wanted to directly support the community and address the existing contamination in the area being caused by nearby injection wells, cesspools and invasive species,” said Amy Hennessey, HDF spokeswoman.

The money will also go toward reforesting adjacent uplands, and increasing efforts to manage endangered species on adjacent properties

“Judge Kobayashi’s order brings a successful resolution to the Clean Water Act case filed by Friends of Maha‘ulepu,” said Bridget Hammerquist, president of FOM. “Friends of Maha‘ulepu and our decision to file the Clean Water Act case have been clearly vindicated.”

The consent decree allows HDF to continue mowing and trimming grass and vegetation on their 557-acre site in the Mahaulepu Valley.

It also allows for continued irrigation using already existing infrastructure and for temporary fencing for the management of feral pigs.

Prohibited activities include digging and excavation, harrowing — or churning the soil using discs and other plowing devices, grubbing — or knocking down vegetation with equipment.

Ditch maintenance involving dredging and redirection and any other activity that constitutes disturbing the land aren’t allowed, as long as the consent decree stands.

But, maintenance on pipelines, ditches, and drainage canals can continue, so long as the work doesn’t include HDF infrastructure.

The order and the subsequent payment for the supplemental environmental project at Makauwahi Cave Reserve doesn’t change HDF’s plans to complete an Environmental Impact Statement to create an industrial dairy in the valley.

“We remain committed to continuing our work with regulators and the community to bring the state’s first pasture-based dairy to fruition,” Hennessey said.

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