800,000 Gallon Wastewater Discharge at ‘Ō‘ōkala

December 26, 2018, 10:48 AM HST · Updated December 26, 10:48 AM
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The Hawai‘i Department of Health is warning the public to stay out of Kaohaoha Gulch below Mamalahoa Highway in ‘Ō‘ōkala, Hawai‘i.

Stormwater within Kaohaoha Gulch was contaminated with animal waste due to a discharge on Dec. 24, 2018 from a lagoon at the Big Island Dairy facility.

The DOH is advising the public to avoid contact with water within Kaohaoha Gulch in areas between Big Island Dairy and the shoreline east of ‘Ō‘ōkala Town.

The contaminated water was expected to reach coastal waters via stormwater flows through Kaohaoha Gulch. Warning signs were posted in the affected areas.

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Owners of Big Island Dairy reported the discharge to DOH at 9:10 a.m. on Dec. 24 and estimated approximately 800,000 gallons of wastewater was expected to be discharged during pumping activities throughout the day.

The lagoon was being pumped down to maintain the structural integrity of the lagoon and prevent an uncontrolled discharge into Alaialoa Gulch, which runs through ‘Ō‘ōkala Town.

The dairy is required to submit a written report to DOH documenting the cause of the spill. The DOH Clean Water Branch will continue to oversee the situation and investigate the wastewater spill as the discharge of animal waste into State waters is strictly prohibited.

The DOH Clean Water Branch is tasked to respond to sewage spills which reach state
waters. The Clean Water Branch protects public health and the environment by prohibiting discharges which impair water quality, keeping Hawaiʻi’s waters fishable and swimmable for everyone.

Owners and operators of wastewater systems must comply with environmental regulations that are in place to protect the public. Failure to do so results in legal action by the state, federal partners and/or private citizens.

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