HILO, Hawaii — Rain and wastewater were discharged from Big Island Dairy over three days after heavy rain fell in Hawaii in early May, according to a report.
A report from the dairy to the state Department of Health indicates that nearly 2.3 million gallons (8.7 million liters) were discharged from the dairy in Ookala before entering into nearby gulches, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported .
From the May 7-9 discharge, about 96,000 gallons (364,000 liters) were from dairy activities, according to the report.
The discharged was “mostly rainwater mixed with our dairy effluent,” said Jake Mecham, the dairy’s business manager. The dairy notified the department weeks before that its effluent storage would fill if rains continued, he said. The dairy stayed in contact and discussed options as rain continued falling.
“We proposed pumping the lagoon water into the field downslope from the lagoon to get as much natural filtration through the grass as possible before it reached the gulch,” Mecham said. “After internal discussion, and with notification to the DOH, we began pumping the water through the grass rather than let it flow over the spillway directly into the Kaohaoha Gulch.”
The dairy took measures to minimize the discharge impact and continued monitoring, Mecham said.
The department conducted an inspection and is overseeing actions to help prevent another discharge, said Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the health department.
“While the discharge was partially due to heavy rains, the dairy was required to take steps prior to the discharge events, to prevent that type of incident from occurring,” Okubo said.
Enforcement action is still open, and the department will determine if additional orders are necessary, Okubo said.
The dairy has been responsible for discharges in the past. It was fined $25,000 in May 2017 for an unlawful wastewater discharge.
“Significantly, we have reduced the number of cows contributing to the effluent,” Mecham said. “We are setting up additional equipment to better manage our effluent storage, and we have been able to apply our stored effluent appropriately and sufficiently that we now have a safe margin to operate and manage it again.”
Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/