Thursday, June 28, 2012


JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO GO BACK IN THE WATER: The North Shore of Kaua`i- the sparkling jewel that draws tourists from around the world fueling the local economy, a place of pristine beauty and shimmering, blue oceans- offers some of the finest snorkeling in the world.

Great- if you like swimming in sh*t.

It's not really news around here that the bacterial counts on the north shore beaches commonly exceed the limits. Surfrider Foundation- Kaua`i and others inundate our inbox with each test result, especially regarding Hanalei Bay.

But now it's statewide and even national news which will, if anyone is paying attention, make many think twice about a trip to Kaua`i.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council's 22nd annual beach water quality report on the cleanest beaches in America- as reported in today's pay-walled Honolulu Star Advertiser-

Out of the country's 200 most popular beaches, no Hawaii beach earned the council's 5-star rating, which 12 beaches received.

And what's more:

Kauai County beaches had the highest "exceedance rate" — percent of beach water samples exceeding state standards in 2011 — at 9 percent, followed by Hawaii County (4 percent), City and County of Honolulu (2 percent) and Maui County (2 percent)...

The beaches with the highest "exceedance rates" in 2011 were Hanalei Beach Park (22 percent), Kalihiwai Bay (20 percent), Kee Beach (18 percent), Nawiliwili Harbor (13 percent) and Lumahai Beach (13 percent) on Kauai; and Honolii Beach Park (16 percent) and Pelekane Bay (13 percent) on Hawaii island.

A beach water sample with more than 104 bacterial colonies per 100 milliliters exceeds state standards.

Yuck- gross. But what may be the most disgusting thing of all is what can only be seen as a delusional statement from the deputy director of the state Health Department's environmental health division, Gary Gill, who is quoted as saying:

"Within our limited resources we sample important beaches on a regular basis and 90 percent of the time our ocean water meets standards. Our biggest problem in Hawaii is from storm water runoff. While that will typically cause an exceedance in bacteria standards, it's not an indication of sewage pollution or potential disease."

In other words this bullsh*t says that the bacteria is from bull sh*t.

The problem with the statement as far as the North Shore is concerned is that there is little or no fauna- natural or pastured- mauka (toward the mountains) of the oceans there when compared to most other places on the island. The populated mauka regions- including pastures- just aren't that big. And other than a few pigs there is little life in the mountains.

But there are, in huge numbers, grandfathered cesspools, many of which are proximate to the beaches and many in the yards of transient vacation rentals (TVRs)- rentals that many claim are illegal until the county decided to grandfather existing ones outside official "visitor destination areas" and stop the proliferation of new TVRs.

Granted there are also many local homes that have yet to replace their cesspools with modern septic systems. But those who have been watching the levels of entrobacteria for many years don’t believe for a second that the consistently high levels- especially in Hanalei Bay- are a result of what's commonly called "non-point source pollution."

One problem we understand is the passing of the buck between the feds, the state and the county. Each has some jurisdiction/ The feds have banned new cesspools but grandfathered-in existing single family residences. The state has allowed commercial operations such as TVRs that should not be exempt to continue to keep their old hole-in-the-ground sewage disposal systems. And the county's planning department generally looks the other way with a "not my job, mon" attitude because the council didn't bother to include replacement of old cesspools in the law when they passed the ordinance requiring grandfathered TVRs to be approved by the planning department.

We're sure there are other ways the obvious source of the problem could be addressed... if Alfred E. Gill and others didn't try to use misdirection to essentially say, "What, me worry?"

Meanwhile Kaua`i has thus far escaped being included in the nation-wide coverage of the report in which Hawai`i in general sort of takes it on the chin for not having any five-star beaches this year.

But keep it up guys- just keep ignoring what's really going on and you'll kill that golden goose yet.


Larry said...

Probably this doesn't apply to Kauai, but here on Oahu, the city takes anyone's stormwater and carries it to the ocean.

Many states and municipalities on the Continent have required new developments to handle their own stormwater within the development. So for example, a shopping mall has to let rainwater go down into the earth just as it did before the shopping mall was built. Here on Oahu, the city carries it away in pipes taxpayers pay for, and then it goes into the ocean.

Of course, whatever pesticides, chemicals or garbage is in that water goes into the ocean also.

Andy Parx said...

I'm relatively positive there are no storm drains on the north shore- or really anywhere on Kaua`i. Anything in the ocean comes from either the river(s) or seepage from the water table- the latter being where most think the bacteria are coming from.