Windward coastal waters still unfit
Health officials will continue to monitor bacterial levels
State health officials continue to warn people to stay out of the water because the ocean was contaminated by sewage spills during the heavy rains on Windward Oahu last week.
Warning and advisory signs remain posted at various beaches along the Windward Coast.
"We'll keep the signs up until the bacteria is at a safe level," said Kurt Tsue, spokesman for the state Department of Heath.
The bacterial count for enterococci, one of the indicator organisms officials look at to determine the severity of water contamination, initially was extremely high at beaches ranging from Kaneohe Bay and Bellows to Lanikai -- hundred of times above the state standard.
But as of Monday, those counts dropped significantly to levels ranging from three times to 186 times the standard.
Eight spills occurred on Windward Oahu last week that totaled an estimated 178,350 gallons of sewage entering the ocean, according to state health officials.
The largest spill occurred at Kaneohe Bay with about 102,000 gallons, followed by Kailua Bay with about 31,320 gallons. The third-highest sewage spill occurred at Bellows and Waimanalo beaches, with about 15,230 gallons of sewage.
A city Department of Environmental Services crew responded to a waste-water spill yesterday at Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe that appeared to have been rain runoff overflowing from a sewer line that was blocked by tree roots.
A manhole near the park's second gate was reported overflowing about 7 a.m. An estimated 7,500 gallons spilled before the roots were cleared by 9:35 a.m.
Since last week's rains, sunny weather has helped kill bacteria causing the drop in the levels, said Watson Okubo,* supervisor for the monitoring and analysis section of the Clean Water Branch.
Still, the beaches have not been deemed safe, with bacterial counts far exceeding the state's standard.
Bacterial counts for Kaneohe Bay also dropped but remain high with a geometric mean of about 1,300 colony-forming units per 100 milliliters of water for enterococci. The state standard is a geometric mean of 7 colony-forming units per 100 milliliters of water.
Okubo said people could suffer from gastrointestinal illnesses if they swim in waters contaminated with fecal coliform, enterococci and Clostridium perfringens. The organisms, which officials look at to indicate the severity of water contamination, come from human, bird and other animal fecal matter.
BACTERIAL LEVELS DROPPING
The following are results of water samples taken in various beaches along the Windward Coast to measure the bacterial count for enterococci, one of the indicator organisms officials looked at to determine the severity of water contamination. The state standard is a geometric mean of 7 colony-forming units per 100 milliliters of water. (Units per 100 milliliters of water.)
|Kaneohe Beach Park
|Bellows Beach Park
|Waimanalo Beach Park
|Kailua Beach Park
Source: Department of Environmental Services' Monitoring and Compliance Branch
Thursday, March 9, 2006
» The last name of Watson Okubo, supervisor for the monitoring and analysis section of the Department of Health's Clean Water Branch, was misspelled yesterday in a Page A3 story about contaminated ocean water.