Some safer swimming

LIHUE — Water quality is returning to pre-flood conditions on Kauai, according to newly released data from Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force.

“Little or no bacteria were detected at most surf sites around the island,” said Carl Berg, head of Surfrider BWTF. “Some of the bays still have high counts because of stream runoff.”

Christie Bagley, who is with County of Kauai’s wastewater branch, tested Morgan’s Pond at Lydgate Park as an independent citizen and said it is clean for swimming.

The Department of Health’s safe threshold for clean water is 130 enterococci per 100 ml and Bagley’s tests returned 10 MPN per 100 mL in the keiki side of Morgan’s Pond, and the main pond returned numbers less than 10 MPN per 100 mL.

Those tests were taken June 5, the same day Lydgate Park was to be routinely tested by DOH, but staff members with DOH didn’t take any samples because the pond has been under a brown water advisory since April 14.

A brown water advisory (BWA) went into effect at Haena Beach on May 23, at Koloa Landing on April 26, and Waikoko to Wainiha on April 24. None of these have been canceled.

Sarah Blane, spokeswoman for County of Kauai, deferred water quality questions to the state DOH. But she said since a brown water advisory is still posted for the Lydgate area, the recommendation to “stay out” is still in effect.

“Areas with a BWA are expected to test at a high level and the public has already been advised to stay out of the water in these areas,” said Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for DOH.

The lingering presence of debris in the area is a red flag for DOH, Okubo said.

“The pond has been cleared of the large debris but smaller debris still persists in the pond. Based on prior experience with similar occurrences of debris in the pond, the bacteria counts remain high as long as the debris persists,” she said.

Bagley, however, says her samples returned numbers within the state standard for safe bacteria levels.

On June 6, DOH sampled nine sites on Kauai and returned results deemed safe at Hanalei Bay Pavilion, Waioli Beach Park, Ke‘e Beach, Makua Beach (Tunnels) and Kepuhi Beach.

Tests from the water at the Waipa Stream Gage and at Waioli Stream Mouth both returned 42 parts per 100 mL. Waipa Boat Crossing yielded 64 parts per 100 mL and Waipa Muliwai returned 222 parts per 100 mL.

Surfrider tests at 19 of 32 sites returned results above the state threshold, with numbers reaching 145 parts per 100 mL at Major’s Bay, 243 parts per 100 mL at Hanalei River at Weke Road, 338 parts per mL at Rock Quarry Surf, 1,014 parts per 100 mL at Moloaa Stream and 10,462 parts per 100 mL at Waiopili Stream in Mahaulepu.

“Most of the streams are chronically polluted,” Berg said. “Be sure to stay out of the streams and always rinse off your face and any cuts.”

Surfrider BWTF didn’t get any samples from Ke‘e Beach and the surrounding area because road guards would not let the courier get to Waikoko to pick up the samples, according to Berg.

DOH, which routinely samples every Monday at locations around Kauai, did not take samples on June 11 due to the King Kamehameha holiday. Sampling was scheduled for Tuesday and June 14.

Haena Beach is sampled in front of the lifeguard tower, according to Okubo. On May 23 and on June 6, a plume of turbid water was observed from the lifeguard tower to the mouth of the Manoa Stream. Turbidity values were 23.0 NTU and 39.4 NTU for those days.

“It appears the turbidity is caused by the debris washed out of the Manoa Stream,” Okubo said.

Following the April 14 rain, Koloa Landing remains turbid as well, with low salinity and debris still in the water, according to DOH.

Weekly DOH checks show salinity at Koloa Landing below 32 ppt and turbidity as high as 44.6 NTU. Tuesday morning’s check showed salinity at 30.82 ppt and turbidity at 7.39 NTU.

Waikoko Beach has been checked weekly by DOH and salinity has ranged from 22.6 to 34.47 ppt and turbidity from 5.44 to 35.2 NTU. The area is affected by the soil and debris washed out by the heavy rains and shoreline erosion.

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