MAHAULEPU — Waiopili Stream, which meets the ocean at Mahaulepu Beach on Kauai’s South Side, has been officially dubbed an impaired waterway by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The stream has been on the Hawaii’s draft 2016 303 (d) List of Impaired Waters, and final approval of the list was given by EPA in February.
That means the water in the stream doesn’t meet federal water quality standards. Lists are updated every two years, and community members working to protect that area are encouraged.
“It is great that the determination has at last been made,” said Bridgett Hammerquist of the group Friends of Mahaulepu. “It is now an impaired body of water. The final is out.”
The state has had signs warning of polluted waters in the area since August 2016, according to the Department of Health, after a letter from the EPA forced DOH to post the signs in the area.
“As a recipient of a BEACH Act grant, Hawaii DOH is required to post signs at beaches when water quality standards for pathogen or pathogen indicators are not met at coastal recreation waters,” the EPA letter said.
The letter continued: “EPA also urges Hawaii DOH to continue its investigation of the source of bacteria.”
Chronically, samples taken from the Waiopili Stream by scientists contain bacteria counts higher than the state threshold of 130 enterococci parts per 100 mL.
In February, samples taken by the Blue Water Task Force, Surfrider Kauai’s water quality monitoring team, showed an enterococcus concentration of 12,997 parts per 100 mL.
Pakalas was the only place on Kauai with numbers that surpassed the counts at Waiopili Stream in February, with an enterococcus concentration of 19,863 parts per 100 mL.
DOH’s Clean Water Branch has had a brown water advisory issued for the island of Kauai since Feb. 2, due to stormwater runoff, as well, which can carry with it bacteria and pathogens according to DOH.
The Waiopili Stream flows downhill from the Hawaii Dairy Farms’ proposed dairy site and has been used by Friends of Maha’ulepu as an example of potential pollution due to the planed 699-minimum cattle dairy.
“It should be really hard to add untreated bacteria animal waste in Mahaulepu with an already impaired stream that drains in the central valley there where they wanted to place an agricultural operation,” Hammerquist said.
Hawaii Dairy Farms’ representatives, however, say that they have a comprehensive water quality monitoring plan to be regularly implemented once operations are started.
“The water quality data will empirically demonstrate conditions to address concerns and future regulatory requirements,” Amy Hennessey, spokeswoman for HDF, told TGI.
HDF’s current conservation plan and best management practices will meet any potential needs to protect the water quality in the area, Hennessey said.
As for the Waiopili Stream, DOH says the public is still being warned of high bacteria content in the water at the popular swimming beach near CJM Stables’ horse trails.