In response to Kauai community complaints, Hawaii Dairy Farms plans to reduce the size of its initial herd and has improved its effluent storage pond system.
The dairy will start with 650-699 cows, rather than 880 as first planned. That's about 1.5 cows per acre, which is similar to other existing cattle operations in the Mahaulepu Valley, according to a company news release.
HDF went on to state:
We've expanded the capacity of our effluent ponds to hold more than 100 days of storage in phase one. That’s well beyond the regulatory requirement. We have also added a secondary containment berm with an additional 30 days of storage. There has been no storm event since rainfall has been recorded in Mahaulepu valley that would exceed the phase one capacity of the effluent ponds.
Nutrients will not leave the farm or flow into the streams and groundwater.
The company also promised to “monitor water quality on a regular basis to assess and maintain the effectiveness of our irrigation, nutrient management and conservation practices,” and will plant a windbreak and regularly aerate the ponds to help control odors.
“We know some members of the community are concerned about the cow manure and there have been many issues raised based on fears,” [Ulupono Initiative general partner Kyle] Datta said. “In fact, in pastoral systems, cow manure from dairies and ranches is broken down by biological organisms and turns into nutrients that feed the grass and create rich organic soil. In phase one, the amount of manure produced will only fulfill about 20 percent of the required nutrients for pasture growth. As a result, we will need additional fertilizer to sustain pasture development and regeneration.”
I noticed that Surfrider, a strong opponent of the dairy, has taken to calling manure “feces” in an attempt to make it seem more repugnant. I think “feces” more accurately describes the stuff that's being pumped into the ocean from Hanalei to Haena by all the vacation rentals. Curiously, this is an actually occurring problem, as opposed to a fear, that Surfrider has consistently ignored.
Will the dairy's changes be enough to satisfy entrenched critics? Probably not. Will it be enough to derail the Hyatt's lawsuit? Unlikely. Datta had this to say about the resort's legal challenge:
[T]he misguided legal concept that the owners of reclassified agricultural land can sue to have their agricultural neighbors declared a nuisance would impact every single farmer in the state, large or small, and is a direct assault on the rights of farmers under the laws of the State of Hawaii.
Another salvo fired in the battle between agriculture and gentrification/tourism.
News that a pilot whale had washed up in Hanalei Bay while the Navy is engaged in its RIMPAC war games reminded me of the new book, “War of the Whales,” by Joshua Horowitz. It's the true story of a marine researcher and environmental lawyer who team up to prove that Navy sonar is harming whales. Horowitz was interviewed on NPR earlier this month.
Surely we don't have to sacrifice these intelligent creatures, who have occupied the planet far longer than we, to the war machine.
Or as Marc Kaufmann astutely noted in his Washington Post review:
By telling the sonar-and-the-whales story in such detail and breadth, the author may provoke a more substantial debate about what human advances and priorities are doing to the rest of the planet.
And that's the bigger debate we need to be having now, locally and globally. Because when you look at it from that perspective you quickly see the true battle being waged is us — homo sapiens — against them: every other living organism.
Are we so deluded as to imagine that is a fight we can win, without also destroying our own species?