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March 30, 2016

DOH Sanitary Survey Results

We would like to share with you the results of a sanitary survey just released by the State of Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), used to determine the sources of the high bacteria levels in Waiopili Ditch located in Mahaulepu. We are pleased to report that the survey states, as related to Hawaii Dairy Farms (HDF), that "[c]urrently, there is no significant impact to the Waiopili Ditch from any activity that can be attributed to the proposed dairy.” (Page 8)

After months of dairy opponents accusing HDF of being the cause of the high bacteria levels in Waiopili Ditch, it is reaffirming to have these results released to the public. The facts are plainly stated and backed up by solid scientific testing, and the DOH's further testing will help assure there is a thorough understanding of what factors impact water quality in the Mahaulepu and Poipu/Koloa Watershed. It is also interesting to note the survey states that “DOH is concerned that the large number of injection wells and cesspools in the adjacent Poipu/Koloa watershed may adversely impact the waters of the Waiopili Ditch.” (Page 11)

The DOH survey will help to inform our voluntary EIS and the dairy’s future plans. We continue to work closely with the DOH, and other regulating entities, to monitor the water quality of the farm and ensure we are following best management practices. 

Hawaii Dairy Farms continues to operate with the utmost care and commitment to the environment. That commitment is one of the reasons we chose to conduct the voluntary EIS. We look forward to the publication of the draft EIS in the near future, as well as the results of DOH’s further studies.

We urge you to read the full report on the DOH website to learn more but have provided some key excerpts from the study, below.

In Relation to Hawaii Dairy Farms 
"The construction of a dairy farm is proposed in the area surrounding the Waiopili Ditch (within the Mahaulepu sub-watershed). An irrigation system and water troughs have been installed and grass has been planted in the area of the proposed dairy farm. No significant grading, grubbing, or facility construction activity has occurred recently at the proposed dairy site and no cattle currently exists on the site. There is no point source discharge of pollutants into Waiopili Ditch... Currently, there is no significant impact to the Waiopili Ditch from any activity that can be attributed to the proposed dairy." (Page 8)

Causes for Concern and Further Testing
"This sanitary survey found that there are 120 injection wells in the adjacent Poipu/Koloa (Waikomo) watershed, most of which are for wastewater, some are for drainage and one is for industrial use. There are approximately 2,200 on-site disposal systems (OSDS) in the same adjacent watershed, about 1600 of which are cesspools. The geological and hydrological composition of the watershed indicate that these facilities may contribute to the high levels of enterococci detected in the Waiopili Ditch via the groundwater. Groundwater velocity under the proposed dairy is 1.2 feet per day. Most of Poipu/Koloa watershed has an average groundwater velocity of 10 feet per day with the rates increasing as it nears the ocean. This groundwater may carry wastewater contaminants from the Poipu/Koloa watershed which may impact the waters of the Mahaulepu watershed, including the Waiopili Ditch." (Page 10)

"DOH is concerned that the large number of injection wells and cesspools in the adjacent Poipu/Koloa watershed may adversely impact the waters of the Waiopili Ditch. The hydrologic information obtained during the fact-finding and data review portions of this sanitary survey indicate that groundwater from the Poipu/Koloa watershed may impact the Mahaulepu watershed by carrying wastewater contaminants which may later be detectable in the Waiopili Ditch. A portion of the injection wells and cesspools in the Poipu/Koloa watershed are located very close to the ocean, further leading to concerns that the beach fronting the Mahaulepu watershed may also be adversely impacted by the adjacent watershed. The EPA-recommended tests used to evaluate the waters of Waiopili Ditch were also used to compare and evaluate waters of Waiopili and the Poipu/Koloa watershed to determine whether latter impacts or influences the former. Some of the tests are currently in progress and results will not be available in time for this report. This report will be amended when the final data becomes available.” (Page 11)

Additional Testing
"Testing to determine whether wastewater from the adjacent watershed is impacting the Waiopili Ditch is currently underway. DOH/CWB and U.S. Geological Service, Pacific Islands Water Science Center staff collected water samples from selected sites in the Mahaulepu and Poipu/Koloa Watershed. Samples were collected for pharmaceutical and wastewater indicator compounds, nutrients, stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen in water, and stable isotopes of nitrogen and oxygen in nitrate. DOH has received preliminary data from USGS but does not expect to receive the final results until mid to late 2016." (Page 11)

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