Heavy rain runoff affecting water quality

  • graphic submitted by Surfrider Blue Water Task Force

    This graphic shows January water quality testing results for enterococci bacteria, fecal indicating bacteria in streams and surf spots around Kauai.

LIHUE — There aren’t any fresh brown water advisories on Kauai after the weekend of rain, but Hawaii Department of Health always suggests avoiding swimming in any brown water because of storm runoff and potential contaminants.

And with recent rains and apparent runoff in the rivers and streams leading to the ocean, the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation advises caution as well.

“In addition to increased pollution, brown water also has a potential increase of issues with sharks,” Surfrider representative John Alderete said in a Monday water quality news release.

Still lingering are DOH’s brown water advisories for Nawiliwili Bay on Jan.10, Moloa’a Bay on Jan. 7 and Lydgate/Wailua Bay on Jan. 2.

Monday, Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force released their January testing results for enterococci bacteria, fecal indicating bacteria, in Kauai waters.

Though enterococci is used as a fecal indicating bacteria, there is also evidence the bacteria is naturally occurring in tropical soils as well.

Those results showed only six locations that were below the state threshold value (STV) of 130 bacterial counts per 100 milliliters of water during the day of sampling and only two locations with five-month averages below that STV.

The highest January results from Blue Water Task Force, released Jan. 11, came from Niumalu Beach Park, where enterococci counts reached 9,208 bacteria per 100 mls, way above the 130 bacteria STV.

Also among the highest bacteria counts, in the thousands, were the Wailua River Mouth, Gillins Beach, Moloa’a Stream, Hanalei River, Anahola Stream, and Kilauea Stream Mouth.

Those high bacteria counts are typical after the rain, according to Alderete, especially at streams and river mouths.

“Typically, our surf and beach sites are mostly clean, while streams and canals are mostly not. This is pretty consistent from month-to-month,” Alderete said. “However, as we had weeks of heavy rain before Saturday’s testing, most (82%) of our sampling sites are showing elevated (and high) bacterial counts above the STV.”

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Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or at jelse@thegardenisland.com

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