Blue Water Task Force, Water Quality, Illness
November 13 2013

Heavy Rain, Brown Water & Bacteria, Oh my!

by Mara Dias

The Kaua’i Chapter tests 20 surf breaks and freshwater streams on a monthly basis.  They were fortunate this month that their regularly scheduled water testing coincided with storm conditions - heavy rains, flooding, high winds and surf- and they were able to demonstrate how dangerous and polluted local waterways and beaches can get in those conditions and Brown Water Advisories are issued. 

Runoff caused by the rains have loaded the streams and their receiving beaches with pollution from overwhelmed septic systems and cesspools, animal waste, dead animals and flood debris.  Thirteen of the Chapters 20 sampling sites exceeded health standards, and their highest reading taken at Niumalu Beach Park was nearly 100 times the national health limit of 104 enterococcus bacteria per 100 ml seawater.

See where the Chapter is testing and view their latest results here:

 In addition to their regular water testing program the Kaua'i Chapter has been working with the State DOH to find and fix the sources of pollution in problematic watersheds.  They have also been advocating for the State to post health warning signs, similar to signs posted by life guards during heavy surf, to provide better public health protection in polluted conditions.

Read local media coverage of the Brown Water Advisory with comments from the Kaua'i BWTF Coordinator Dr. Cal Berg here:  The Garden