EPA does not differentiate — post warning signs

The Guest Commentary in TGI May 21, concerning contamination of Waiopili Stream correctly reports that Hawaii DOH has failed to identify the sources of the outrageously high concentrations of fecal indicating bacteria. But, Enterococcus and Clostridium bacteria are found in feces of all warm-blooded animals, including humans, pigs, birds and cows all of which are present there. The average concentration of Enterococcus in Waiopili Stream for 2015 is 14,989/100 ml, far above the state standard of 35/100ml. The DOH values for Clostridium are far above guidance levels indicative of human sources. Tests by DOH of DNA of viruses from Enterococcus indicated human sources. Contamination in the stream is probably from both human and animal sources. 

One possible source of human fecal contamination is the sewage sludge disposal facility across the road from CJM Stables, on an old cinder cone volcano rife with lava tubes. Although the facility has recently been closed by the DOH, bacteria and pathogens may remain in the subterranean environment and find their way down to Waiopili Stream. DOH has not made public its study of the problem or responded to our Petition for Listing and Posting. 

EPA does not differentiate between sources when health criteria are surpassed. There is still a requirement for public notice. I have been requesting of the DOH that this stream be posted as dangerous to human health. I frequently witness families, including small children, recreating in and near this stream where it discharges into the ocean near Gillin’s House. Without immediate posting, the DOH is putting human health at risk by continuing to allow individuals to come into contact with this highly polluted waterway. I did get a “staph” infection there. 

Although notified of the risk by Surfrider, the land owner, Grove Farm, has refused Surfrider’s offer to post warning signs by the stream, awaiting direction from the DOH instead. It has been over a year since this contamination was reported, yet the DOH fails to warn the public about this and the other chronically polluted streams on Kauai. Other streams of concern are at Hanamaulu, Nawiliwili, and Niumalu Kauai County beach parks and Waikomo Stream at Koloa Landing. None of those places are posted with warning signs. 

Check our www.kauai.surfrider.org website to see contamination levels measured on a monthly basis. Contact Alec Wong, head of the Clean Water Branch, to request posting of warning signs at our polluted streams. <alec.wong@doh.hawaii.gov> 


Carl J. Berg, Ph.D. is a member of Kauai Surfrider 


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