Lawsuit challenges industrial dairy’s illegal discharge of animal waste under the federal Clean Water Act
Community groups Kupale Ookala and Center for Food Safety sued the Idaho‑based dairy company Big Island Dairy, LLC, owned by Steven and Derek Whitesides, this Wednesday, June 28, 2017, for violating the federal Clean Water Act by continuously discharging animal urine and feces into streams and ocean waters in and around the community of Ookala, HI. The complaint alleges that Big Island Dairy’s improper manure applications and storage practices have caused, and continue to cause, discharges of animal waste and pollutants into streams flowing into the Pacific Ocean.
Big Island Dairy, a large concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), confines nearly 2,600 cows uphill from the town of Ookala, northwest of Hilo, at the base of Mauna Kea. The dairy is supposed to store and use all of its animal urine and feces onsite, including holding it in open-air waste lagoons and spraying the manure wastewater as liquid manure on its crop fields. However, residents of Ookala have witnessed brown murky water smelling of animal feces, tested to contain high levels of dangerous bacteria, flowing from the dairy into local waterways, and ultimately into the Pacific Ocean. They have also observed the dairy spraying liquid manure on its crops during high wind days, or immediately before or during rainfall, leading to increased runoff and pollution drift. Under the Clean Water Act, any discharge from Big Island Dairy is a violation of state and federal water pollution laws.
Read the press release here.