Rise Above Plastics

Local Information for Kaua’i, Hawaii

The Kaua’i Chapter is providing valuable water quality information where government-run beach monitoring is limited.  Kaua’i tests 22 surf breaks and freshwater streams on a monthly basis.  Their water testing program has received extensive coverage in their local media, which the chapter has used to build community awareness of island-wide water pollution issues.  Every year they publish an annual summary of their water testing findings.  Their 2013 annual water quality report can be found here. Chapter website here:  surfriderkauai.ning.com

The Chapter has formed a collaborative working relationship with the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) water monitoring program on Kaua'i. They have been successful in getting the DOH to expand their beach sampling plan to include a popular surf break and other known bacterial hot spots.  They are helping the DOH by weekly sample collection and environmental monitoring at six sites along the north shore of Kauai.  View DOH sampling sites and water quality data here: emdweb.doh.hawaii.gov

The chapter was also the driver behind the very first advisory sign posted on the island to warn the public of bacterial contamination at the mouth of the Hanalei River; a site where multiple indicators have demonstrated a chronic pollution problem.  They continue to advocate for more signs to be posted at chronically polluted sites, as well as warning signs at the beach when test results show high bacteria levels, similar to the signs used by lifeguards to warn the public of rough wave conditions.

The Kaua’i BWTF is also working together with the DOH and Stanford University scientists to identify bacterial hot spots caused by human sources using DNA markers and posting these contaminated areas with health advisory signs.  Wastewater assessments and microbial source tracking would then be done to further pinpoint human sources and remedial actions taken, e.g. cesspool replacement.  These source studies were highlighted in the Hawaii State Summary of the NRDC’s 2012 Testing the Waters Report.

The Kaua'i BWTF program also serves local education purposes.  Their BWTF coordinator has been taking their program into marine science classes at local high schools and the Kaua’i Community College (KCC), to teach students about water pollution and other local environmental issues and to expose them to career opportunities in the public health and environmental fields.  He also mentors high school students doing science fair projects and KCC Marine Option Program student internships and projects.

Click here to see an impressive list of Chapter mentored science projects that high school and college students completed during 2012. 

 

Learn more about beach monitoring programs and water quality issues in Hawaii in the water quality section of Surfrider's State of the Beach, Hawaii State Report.