Letters for Tuesday, April 17, 2018

‘If the water is brown, turn around’

Heavy rains, ground saturation and flooding have caused major water pollution problems for Kauai.

The DOH has issued an islandwide Brown Water Advisory, which must be publicized.

Surfrider measured fecal indicating bacteria levels on Saturday, at the beginning of the flooding, and found most areas with bacteria counts in the thousands.

DOH should perform more testing in the coming weeks to let the public know when the waters are not contaminated with fecal indicating bacteria and not a public health risk.

Besides the expected washing of human and animal wastes, chemicals and debris off the ground surface itself, there are two other sources of pollution.

Beachside and riverside homes and public restroom facilities have had land eroded, exposing and washing away cesspools and septic system. e.g. at Black Pot and Hanalei homes.

In addition the areas flooded (Hanalei, Anahola etc.) had their cesspools and septic systems filled with flood waters thus bringing contaminated waters to the surface. Flooded streets and yards are basically sewers.

But as the waters subside and drain in to the ocean they will take the viruses, bacteria and chemicals through the ground and in to the streams, rivers and ultimately the ocean.

The particulate mater will be strained out by the sand and soil, contaminating it for awhile.

While the ocean waters may look clean, groundwater contamination will continue, perhaps for weeks. My early studies in Hanalei, years ago, showed high levels of bacteria for over a week after rains stopped.

Contamination of surface water and groundwater by recent flooding demonstrates the foolishness of having cesspools and septic systems in low lying, flood prone areas.

With sea level rising and more catastrophic weather events predicted, sewage treatment infrastructure must be removed from coastal areas.

Carl J. Berg, Ph.D. ecologist, Senior Scientist, Kauai Chapter, The Surfrider Foundation

School appreciates support

Kalaheo Elementary had its second annual Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) night this past Friday and it was a huge success thanks to the amazing turnout by community volunteers.

With over 400 people and students in attendance we were so thankful for the 70-plus volunteers who collaborated to make this such a successful event. From all of us at Kalaheo Elementary School, we’d like to thank everyone from Kauai Community College COGS team, Kauai High Key Club, Waimea High School science students, the Kalaheo Boy Scouts, Wilcox Elementary School Teachers, Kauai County Council runners, the Kauai Educational Society for Science and Astronomy, and Kalaheo Elementary School parents, administrators, teachers and staff who helped pull off this awesome, free, educational event.

There have been so many individuals, families, and local businesses who have come together to make this year such a success for Kalaheo School. Aletha Thomas of Monkey Pod Jam has taken over teaching our student cooking classes which teaches students cooking basics as well as easy and healthy recipes kids can make at home. Paco’s Tacos Cantina at Kukuiolono Golf Course has been donating its HI 5 recyclables to the school since 2015, helping us to raise hundreds of dollars for student programs and free family events such as STEM night.

This is the second year we’re partnering with Trineen Lacaden and KCC to provide a STEM night for the school. The community support has been incredible and we couldn’t have such a great school without all of our volunteers. “It takes a village to raise a child,” and this island village pulled together to provide for its children!

Malie Smith, Kalaheo Elementary School PTSA President

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