Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Hanauma, Bellows
join ‘polluted’ list

Pokai Bay also joins the list
of streams and coastal waters
now considered polluted

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Hanauma Bay, Pokai Bay and Bellows Beach are among more than 100 coastal waters and streams in Hawaii deemed polluted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Pearl Harbor, Ala Wai Canal and Honolulu Harbor were already on the list.

June Harrigan, manager of the state Environmental Planning Office, said: "It's a wake up call that people have to pay attention to. ... We should not be complacent of our water quality."

The EPA issued a revised list yesterday that concluded 30 coastal waters and 81 streams in Hawaii are polluted with sediments, nutrients, bacteria and trash. The list is expected to help the state and EPA target specific polluted beaches and streams and help the community develop recommendations to reduce pollution from urban and agricultural areas.

The agency is seeking public comment on the revised list.

In 1998 the EPA approved the state Health Department's list of 19 polluted coastal waters and streams, even though the agency knew of at least 50 other water bodies that failed to meet water quality standards.

U.S. District Judge David Ezra ordered the EPA to identify all of Hawaii's polluted waters and streams, following a challenge by environmental groups. A total of 92 moderately polluted waters were added to the list, which includes 58 on Oahu, 20 on the Big Island, 16 on Kauai, 15 on Maui and two on Molokai.

Once the polluted waters are identified, the state must set water quality assessments called "total maximum daily loads" for each water body. The assessment is the maximum amount of a pollutant that may be discharged into the water body without violating water quality standards.

So far, Waimanalo Stream has met the EPA's water quality standards, Harrigan said. Currently the Health Department has contracted workers to improve conditions at Kawa Stream in Kaneohe, Kaneohe Stream and Pearl Harbor.

The state has until 2012 to meet water quality standards for everything on the original list. Harrigan said she hopes more time will be allotted to the state for waters on the revised list.

Most of the polluted areas are streams in urban and agricultural areas, coastal bays, estuaries and harbors.

Harrigan emphasized the use of fossil fuels and nutrients from fertilizers that run into streams, storm drains and into the ocean.

"Whatever people put on the ground, it doesn't disappear," she said. "It just moves from one point to another."

Gary Gill, deputy director of the state Department of Health, said, "Hawaii's water pollution problems are usually along shorelines and in middle to lower reaches of streams where silt and excess nutrients damage the environment."

More information on the revised list and a request to send a public comment can be found on the EPA's Web site at

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