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Half of Kauai’s tested waters polluted

LIHU‘E — A monthly analysis of streams, rivers and surf spots across the island found high concentrations of enterococcus bacterium, a federally recognized indicator of fecal presence in water, at a number of locations.

Volunteers with the Surfrider Foundation’s Blue Water Task Force gathered water samples from 18 sites around Kaua‘i, and then tested the water for the bacterium.

The samples, which were collected on March 9, showed nine sites produced results below Hawaii’s single-day sample standard of 130 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water.

The sites with the subpar readings were, from bad to worse, Kalihiwai Surf, Hanalei River, Wainiha Stream, Hanamaulu Beach, Nawiliwili Stream, Koloa Landing, Kalapaki Bay Surf, Hanamaulu Stream and Moloa‘a Stream.

The sites with acceptable readings were, from top to bottom, Waiohai Surf, Waikoko Surf, Kealia Surf, Pakala, Anahola Bay Surf, Wailua River Park, Middles Surf, Hanalei Surf (Bowl) and Rock Quarry Surf.

The task force uses the same test as the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH), but compliments its water quality program by testing surf sites and stream, not the popular beaches the HDOH tests.

“The results for March show the effects of rainy winter weather, with high concentrations of bacteria in streams and rivers, and in ocean waters getting the discharge of the streams (for example — Kalihiwai and Kalapaki bays),” said Surfrider Kaua‘i senior scientist Carl Berg in a note that accompanied the findings.

“Open ocean water is clean (for example Waiohai and Kealia surf) and dilutes any land based pollution (for example — Middles and Rock Quarry surf).”

The task force’s year-to-date geomean — essentially a site’s average bacterial concentration in 2024 — found 11 sites tested below the state’s water quality standard of 35 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water.

The 11 sites were, from bad to worse, Rock Quarry Surf, Wailua River Park, Hanamaulu Stream, Hanalei River, Wainiha Stream, Nawiliwili Stream, Kalihiwai Surf, Koloa Landing, Hanamaulu Stream, Kalapaki Bay Surf and Moloa‘a Stream.

“Scientific research has shown that most of Kauai’s streams are polluted with human wastewater and the average concentrations for the year show chronic pollution with high concentrations of enterococcus bacteria,” Berg said.

“Surfrider advises that you stay out of brown water, contaminated by surface soil runoff, and always rinse off with clean fresh water when getting out of streams and the ocean.”

More information can be found at Surfrider’s website https://kauai.surfrider.org/programs/blue-water-task-force.
Source: The Garden Island

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