Hawaii Dairy Farms says its planned operation on Kauai will serve as a model for sustainable agriculture and won't have a negative impact on the environment or surrounding community.
HDF released its draft environmental impact statement for the dairy in Mahaulepu on Wednesday, The Garden Island reported. Kaui County had already approved the dairy's $7 million building permit in 2014, but HDF spokeswoman Amy Hennessey said they decided to conduct an environmental evaluation to address residents' concerns.
"We promised the community of Kauai that we would prepare a DEIS for Hawaii Diary Farms, not because we have to, but because it is the right thing to do to help answer community questions," Hennessey said.
The report says cows will be allowed to roam freely across hundreds of acres of pasture and that measures have been established to prevent the release of large amounts of runoff, including growing thick thatches of pasture grass to serve as what Hennessey called "an organic net."
The 557-acre dairy is expected to produce roughly 1.5 million gallons of fresh milk annually and create 11 full-time jobs and 36 construction jobs.
Bridget Hammerquist, with Friends of Mahaulepu, an organization against the dairy, said she still does not support the dairy and questioned whether the environmental assessment was conducted as an independent study.
"The draft EIS was extensively prepared by Group 70 International, the very firm that is credited with developing HDF's waste management plan," Hammerquist said. "How could anybody conclude that an independent EIS has been conducted if prepared by the same company who prepared HDF's dairy plan?"
Hammerquist also said she was concerned about water contamination, odor and the cows having shade.
"It gets very hot at Mahaulepu in the summer, and they'll be crowded," Hammerquist said. "It's hard to accept that a plan with no shelter for their cows, other than at milking, is a good living condition."
The draft environmental impact statement has opened up to public comment for a 45-day period.