Water quality warnings up at Hanalei

HANALEI — The water at Hanalei Bay Landing, known as Hanalei Pier, still has a high amount of bacteria and officials recommend staying out of the water in that area until at least Tuesday.

Routine beach monitoring revealed elevated levels of the bacteria enterococci at Hanalei Bay on Aug. 16, and the area has been posted with warning signs.

Swimmers could experience flu-like symptoms from entering water with elevated bacteria counts; symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and fever. Also possible are infections of the eyes, nose, and throat.

Levels detected were 192 parts per 100 mL, which exceeded the 130 parts per 100 mL threshold, according to the Clean Water Branch of the state Department of Health.

Another round of water testing at the bay is set for Monday, and the beach remains open.

“The advisory will remain posted over the weekend until at least Tuesday, after we receive and review the results of Monday’s samples,” CWB representatives said in a statement to TGI.

Data from Surfrider Kauai’s Blue Water Task Force Aug. 12 testing triggered DOH testing of the water at Hanalei Pier.

Surfrider data showed an elevated enterococci count, but their testing site in the bowl yielded results of more than 24,150 parts per 100 mL.

“We were recording numbers as high as I could test,” said Carl Berg, head of the Blue Water Task Force.

The number was higher than anything that Berg has recorded in the past 10 years.

He double-checked his equipment and results because the number was so high, but found all of his procedures and equipment were up to par. That’s when he called DOH and asked them to sample.

Theories for the elevated bacteria content in the water are leakage from cesspools along Hanalei River and a possible sewage spill. No sewage spill has been reported, however, according to DOH.

And a similar occurrence happened at Koloa Landing in early August when Blue Water Task Force showed higher than usual counts in the water.

“They got a high count of 1,200 or something, so they posted Koloa Landing also,” Berg said.

The elevated bacteria advisory has been lifted for Koloa Landing, according to DOH.

There is a high level bacteria advisory in effect at Waimea Bay Landing, though, where levels of enterococci were recorded at 429 parts per 100 mL.

As the weekend approaches and families venture out to the water to play, experts and officials remind everyone to be cautious about water that is contaminated with high levels of fecal-indicating bacteria.

“We have an ethical responsibility to say something’s polluted if we see that it’s polluted,” Berg said. “That’s what I did when this 24,000 value (tests from Hanalei Pier) came out. I said, ‘hey, this is really strange and people should stay out.’”

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