The state is warning Hawaii Island residents to stay out of waters near Kaohaoha Gulch after heavy rainfall caused a large wastewater discharge from the nearby Big Island Dairy.

The state Department of Health says the dairy is pumping about 800,000 gallons of wastewater from a lagoon to avoid it spilling into the Alaialoa Gulch, which could run into Ookala Town. The dairy owners reported the discharge about 9:10 a.m. today.

The owners will be required to submit a report on the spill to the health department.

A sign posted in April 2018 next to the Alaialoa Gulch in the town of Ookala warns people to stay out of the water.

Courtesy of Charlie Tebbutt

The dairy was recently fined $91,000 for discharges during the summer. About 2 million gallons were discharged in May, and another 5.8 million gallons of wastewater spilled out due to heavy rains from Hurricane Lane in August.

Owners of the embattled dairy recently announced it would be closing operations by the end of February.

The shutdown will deal a huge blow to Hawaii’s fragile dairy industry, which produces just under 10 percent of the state’s total milk consumption.

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