LIHUE — Ulupono Initiative representatives said at the end of the 2018 they’re reconsidering the plan for a dairy on Kauai, but that’s about all they’re saying when it comes to the ongoing project of installing a dairy at Maha’ulepu.
More information and a decision on how to move forward with the dairy “is expected this month,” according to Keith DeMello, a spokesman for the organization.
Ulupono spokeswoman Amy Hennessey said in a Dec. 12 Civil Beat article, the organization is considering whether the Kauai dairy would be a good investment — and that’s after years of investment and study going into the project,
DeMello didn’t answer questions about what factors are being considered in the upcoming decision and didn’t provide a status on the second environmental impact statement, one that was required by the Department of Health before receiving permits needed to move forward.
Community concerns about runoff and other environmental impacts to the ocean, Mahaulepu Valley and the surrounding areas, as well as lawsuits have slowed progress on the project, and Bridget Hammerquist, president of Friends of Mahaulepu, has been heavily involved in the issue.
She points out that while Pam and Pierre Omidyar, of Ulupono, likely thought they were helping Kauai and the state by proposing an industrial dairy on the island, the topography of the land is more suited for crops like breadfruit or hemp that could contribute to the same goal of self-sustainability.
“Breadfruit is great to eat and it’s drought-resistant,” Hammerquist said. “And with the bio-solid dump site up there (that was discontinued in 2014), it might help.”
Researchers are studying hemp’s role in bioremediation at places like Colorado State University, University of Virginia and at the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) at the University of Hawaii.
In addition to soil improvement, researchers at CTHAR say hemp is useful for weed suppression and pollen isolation, soil aeration and for lessening the need to use pesticides. It can also be used for fuel, animal feed, personal hygiene and industrial products, building materials, paper and things like clothing and rope.
The National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Breadfruit Institute has been studying the uses of breadfruit as it relates to global food security issues — finding the long-lived tree produces abundant food in a variety of tropical areas.
These types of crops wouldn’t change the composition of the soil, largely clay, as much as they would accomplish the goal of increasing fresh, local foods for Kauai’s people and potentially help clean the chronically contaminated water in the Waiopili Stream by remediating the soil.
Hennessey said Ulupono was reconsidering the Kauai dairy after the announcement in November that Big Island Dairy would be closing. That happened after millions of gallons of wastewater polluted the streams and subsequently ran through the Ookala community on the way to the ocean.
“It was going off the property and into the streams and then straight into the ocean, much like it would do here,” Hammerquist said. “It’s an almost identical situation. Our topography is not a good design for a concentrated animal population (in Mahaulepu). ”
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.