Clean oceans critical to health, economy
A report shows a marked improvement in water quality at Hawaii's beaches.
Because unusually bad weather caused much of Hawaii's near-shore ocean pollution in 2006, an improvement in the following year was almost a sure thing.
A new report showing a 36 percent decline in beach closings and advisories for the islands in 2007 confirms that the poor conditions resulted from almost continuous rainfall for more than 40 days two years ago.
Still, stormwater pollution is the biggest source of contamination, harming the shorelines that are vital to Hawaii's economic well-being. As urban growth proceeds near the ocean and along streams, pollution continues to threaten public health and the marine environment.
Even with the decline in closings and advisories, the Natural Resources Defense Council's water quality report found that the percentage of seawater samples that exceeded the state's daily maximum bacterial standards increased to 9 in 2007 from 3 percent in 2006.
Also of interest are the pharmaceuticals -- such as an anticonvulsant drug and an antibiotic -- that have been detected in Hawaii's ocean waters, just as drugs have been found in freshwater supplies elsewhere.
The environmental group's report notes that more than a third of the state's beaches are checked and that the Health Department has been increasing the numbers and frequency for testing. Had that not been the case, Kauai's Hanamaulu Beach wouldn't have gained the dubious distinction of being one of the most polluted in the country. The beach just outside of Lihue that wasn't being tested exceeded standards 19 out of the 22 times it was monitored.
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