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Dairy poses more risks than benefits

When the Hawaii Dairy Farm people made their initial presentation I was in support as it all sounded good. That was until one of the dairy “experts” was asked how they were going to deal with the horse flies. The expert’s solution was going to be to introduce a wasp to kill the flies. (This was not too long after a wasp invasion killed a number of weliweli trees on Kauai).

I asked Amy Hennessey about that comment and she said he wasn’t supposed to say that. Humm!

So I started asking more guestions. What about the drinking water wells located close by the dairy that serve Koloa and Poipu? The aquafier underneath the dairy site that creates the well water? What about odor from the dairy affecting the area (Hyatt and Poipu). Of course, the dairy has paid expert opinions on what is not going to happen.

Many years ago when Koloa (sugar) mill was in operation holding ponds would occasionally create a stink three miles away to Koloa Landing. This dairy operation, contrary to the “expert” opinions, will affect the Hyatt and other resorts in the area whenever tradewinds are present, as the odors travel.

Visitors will talk about it on social media and that complaint about the odor will hurt occupancy in the resort area. Local jobs will be lost — I worry about those people who depend on their jobs for their family’s livelihood. If the dairy offers in writing, to shut down due to odors occurring affecting the Hyatt and Poipu area visitor experience, OK, give the dairy a chance.

Our drinking water could become contaminated (remember what happened in Flint, Mich. after experts changed the water system — look at the millions of dollars and the federal government help to fix that problem). Our county has no funds to correct a problem if it occurs. If the dairy were to guarantee in writing if won’t happen and be responsible if it does, OK then I could accept that.

If the dairy guarantees, in writing, they aren’t introducing a wasp to our fragile ecosystem to kill the flies, OK, good.

If the dairy identifies, in The Garden Island, the kuleanas that exist on the dairy site and advises the heirs, I’m good with that.

I haven’t even focused on the ocean pollution which may occur and affect the local divers, fishermen, opihi pickers and commercial dive operations such as Seaport Divers, etc. (The EIS says there will be runoff).

Now if the dairy does have a negative impact on the visitor experience at the Hyatt, etc., property values will drop, impacting the property-tax revenues for the county. Either the county will have to drop services (cut local jobs and benefits for local families) or more likely raise property taxes for all property owners islandwide. And if one rents, the landlord will have to raise rents.

I have not heard of any people who live close to dairy sites anywhere in the world (U.S. Mainland, New Zealand) who think this dairy plan is a good idea because of their own experiences.

Personally, I have little to lose if the dairy occurs. Occasionally I may smell it. I have a water filter so I shouldn’t be affected by the drinking water. But I will be sad to see my local friends losing their resort jobs and worry for their families. I’ll be paying more property taxes, probably.

This dairy model can’t make money due to the fixed wholesale cost of milk and the fact that the milk needs to be shipped off of Kauai to be processed. This is purely a tax benefit for Pierre Omidyar, a very smart billionaire (eBay) who does not live on Kauai.

Look at the key staff positions of Ulupono, Omidyar’s group creating the daily: Primarily sharp Mainland financial people. Interestingly, he tried to build condos on the ridge overlooking Hanalei Bay and the local community protests shut that down. Now he wants to do the dairy project at Mahaulepu which could hurt the local community so much deeper (health, loss of jobs).

Derek Kawakami, show you care about your constituents. Be a hero and help find another location where the dairy can work, where it won’t possibly hurt beautiful Kauai. The dairy will only generate about $60,000 in county tax revenues and five to eight permanent jobs, according to HDF figures.

We are praying that you and Pierre and Pam Omidyar do the right thing for the people of Kauai. Focus more on issues such as affordable housing (Kauai Habitat is the best model for that), traffic, etc. A dairy in its Mahaulepu location is not worth the huge risk to Kauai.

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Tom Bartlett is a resident of Koloa.

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