Report: High levels of bacteria detected at multiple Hawaii beaches

Some of Hawaii’s beaches may not be as pristine as many people think.
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 8:32 AM HST|Updated: Jun. 6, 2023 at 11:45 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some of Hawaii’s beaches may not be as pristine as many people think.

The Surfrider Foundation’s Blue Water Task Force released its latest clean water report that identified three Hawaii waterways as priority beaches with high bacteria rates.

One of those areas is Kahaluu, where 88% of the tests the group conducted in the last 12 months came back with levels of bacteria that were above state health department clean water standards.

”Those percentages indicate how many of the samples that were taken by Surfrider Foundation exceeded the state health standards for for inner caucus enterococcus bacteria. So the higher the number is, the worse the water quality is,” said Surfrider’s Hawaii Regional Manager Lauren Blickley.

Two testing areas were also highlighted by the Blue Water Task Force and added to that priority list: Hanamaulu Beach and Nawilwili Stream.

Of the testing done in the last 12 months, 80% of samples at Hanamaulu were found to have bacteria levels that exceeded state health department standards.

Things were worse at Nawiliwili stream where 100% of the samples tested exceeded those levels.

”These are areas that are also very calm. So they’re perfect places for children and for our kupuna to be able to recreate and of course, these are also very high areas of bacteria. So they’re not safe. We don’t want our family members to be swimming in these areas,” added Blickley.

The Surfrider Foundation said the Kauai chapter has not measured a bacteria count below the state health standard at Nawiliwili Stream since 2016. Hanamaulu bay has also tested high nearly every year that testing has been done.

The group tested more than 9,000 water samples across the country last year at nearly 500 sites. According to its data, more than 10 trillion gallons of untreated stormwater runnoff flow into U.S. water ways each year.

Each place has its own unique problems but the Surfrider Foundation says one of the biggest contributors to high bacteria in our beaches is not a new problem.

”Cesspools and again and agriculture development are our two highest contributors,” said Blickley.

Blickley said while there were some legislative wins this past session to accelerate the timeline when it comes to converting cesspools, there is still a lot to do.

The non-profit says funding needs to be set aside to help homeowners convert their cesspools. The average cost is around $20,000.