Dairy submits prep notice

LIHUE — Hawaii Dairy Farms has submitted an environmental impact statement preparation notice to the state Department of Health for its proposed $17.5 million dairy in Mahaulepu Valley.

It is the first step in moving forward with the study, which HDF has agreed to conduct voluntarily in light of public concern surrounding the project.

“The EIS, which is the highest environmental scrutiny of our plans, will be completed prior to construction of any dairy facilities on the farm,” HDF wrote in an announcement on its website. “By going directly to an EIS, we are demonstrating our commitment to collaborate with the community to address concerns based on facts, not fears.”

A 30-day public comment period ends Feb. 23.

“We encourage anyone with questions to review the EISPN document and provide comments,” HDF spokeswoman Amy Hennessey wrote in an email Monday. “We look forward to continuing the conversation with the community to create a farm that provides fresh, local milk for Hawaii’s families in a sustainable, environmentally sound manner.”

Community concerns surrounding HDF’s plan have ranged from water contamination risks to potential impacts to the nearby marine ecosystem. In July, Kawailoa Development, LLP, owner of the nearby Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa and the Poipu Bay Golf Course, filed suit against HDF in 5th Circuit Court, claiming its business, recreational, environmental and aesthetic interests would be adversely affected by the dairy operation.

“Kawailoa Development remains concerned about environmental consequences caused by the dairy, and will be looking closely at the Hawaii Dairy Farm’s EIS Preparation Notice,” Jun Fukada, the company’s general manager, said in a statement.

HDF is planning to “establish and operate the first zero-discharge, grass-fed dairy in Hawaii, utilizing a sustainable, pasture-based rotational grazing system” on about 578 acres in Mahaulepu Valley, states the 30-page EIS prep notice.

“The higher rigor of an EIS was selected over that of an Environmental Assessment to fully analyze potential impacts of construction and ongoing dairy operations, and to recommend appropriate mitigation as warranted,” the document reads.

In addition to identifying existing environmental conditions at the site on Grove Farm Company land, the Draft EIS will “discuss probable impacts, both short- and long-term, and propose appropriate mitigation actions that can minimize potentially adverse effects.”

The study will also evaluate alternatives, including changes to HDF’s operation and location.

Initial operations are permitted to begin with up to 699 cows, and expansion of the herd would occur over several years, according to the notification. Dairy operations with more than 700 cows require additional regulatory review.

HDF is working with Honolulu-based Group 70 International on the EIS process, the same firm that’s been helping HDF with its plans for the farm. Comments can be emailed to either HDF@Group70int.com or epo@doh.hawaii.gov.

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