Hawaii dairy removing wastewater lagoons in deal with state

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — The state-mandated removal of wastewater lagoons at a Hawaii dairy has commenced, officials said.

The state Department of Health announced Big Island Dairy’s lower lagoon is no longer operational, West Hawaii Today reported Monday.

Approximately 300 cows remain on site, with cows being removed and sold weekly, officials said.

Steve and Derek Whitesides, the owners of the Hawaii Island facility, announced in November they would discontinue dairy and milk processing operations.

The Department of Health and Big Island Dairy entered an agreement in March addressing numerous discharges of wastewater containing manure into state waters during the past two years.

The deal required the Whitesides to terminate operations, remove all cows from confinement, and clean and remove the existing wastewater system.

The Whitesides were also required to pay $79,000 by June, either as an administrative penalty or to fund an environmentally beneficial project in the area, officials said.

While the dairy in Ookala is no longer operational, employees have remained on the site to conduct final closure activities including caring for remaining cows and cleaning, said health department spokeswoman Janice Okubo.

“The closure of the dairy has been going well,” Okubo said. “Dairy personnel have worked hard to comply with the DOH-issued (agreement).”

The health department is not aware of any potential buyers or others interested in the property, Okubo said.