School postpones opening day
Bacteria in water at Waiahole Elementary prompts the delay
Ninety-five Waiahole Elementary School students got an extra day of summer vacation because bacteria in the water system has postponed the school's planned opening today.
Coliform bacteria were detected late Wednesday in a routine monthly water sample, said Ann Zane, Safe Drinking Water compliance supervisor for the state Department of Health.
The state standard for drinking water is that there be no coliform bacteria present, Zane said. Coliform is an indicator of other bacteria that could make people sick with diarrhea or cause vomiting.
Yesterday, notices that tap water for cooking and drinking should be boiled before use were hand-delivered to the 90 homes and 50 farm lots in Waiahole Valley that use the same water supply as the school, Zane said.
Apparently, the chlorinator on one of two wells serving the valley malfunctioned, Zane said.
The Waiahole Water System is owned, operated and maintained by the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. through a contract with Doonwood Engineering.
Doonwood workers have reconfigured the water system so that one chlorinator serves both wells for the next few days, said Adrienne Gardner, a housing corporation spokeswoman. She said a new pump should be installed this weekend, and the agency plans to order a backup pump.
The housing agency finances and develops affordable residential housing.
Test results on water samples taken yesterday should be available by midday today.
"If results are all clean from four samples, we (the Health Department) will lift the 'boil water' notice," Zane said.
"Hopefully, we're looking at only a one-day delay," state Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen said.
"But if (Thursday's) testing also comes back positive, we'll have to just wait and see what the situation is."
Waiahole Elementary normally prepares food for Kaaawa Elementary, just up the coast. Waiahole kitchen staff will work today at Kahaluu Elementary, where they will prepare Kaaawa's food, Knudsen said.
For updates on when Waiahole Elementary School will open, look under "School Closures" at doe.k12.hi.us.