- Associated Press - Monday, August 1, 2016

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) - Federal environmental officials are requiring the state of Hawaii to post warning signs about poor water quality at two Kauai beaches.

The Environmental Protection Agency voiced concerns about the water at Mahaulepu and Gillin’s beaches in a letter sent to the state on July 25. It’s asking the state Department of Health to post the signs and further investigate the source of enterococcus bacteria, which indicate fecal contamination.

“In addition to posting signs, EPA strongly advises Hawaii DOH to immediately implement public health protection measures, such as limiting access and conducting information outreach to the general public,” the letter says.

The EPA had reviewed a state survey of a Mahaulepu watershed and found the enterococcus samples exceeded the national recreational water quality standard, The Garden Island reported (https://bit.ly/2aV43ZD).

Robert Zelkovsk, spokesman for the Kauai chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, called the water problem at the beaches “a pressing public health issue. He said he is glad to see “the EPA has stepped in and put their foot down.”

The Surfrider Foundation’s Blue Water Task Force worked with another environmental group, Friends of Mahaulepu, to conduct sampling at the Waiopili Stream earlier this year. Friends of Mahaulepu posted signs in May warning beachgoers the water quality in the stream and surrounding areas wasn’t up to federal standards.

The signs were taken down that same day.

“We did do the right thing,” said Friends of Mahaulepu President Bridget Hammerquist. “We weren’t wrong.”

DOH spokeswoman Janice Okubo said the department is “seeking clarification from EPA on their concerns and will be in discussion on the issues raised.” She did not provide specific dates for further conversations or a timeline for when the signs would be posted.

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Information from: The Garden Island, https://thegardenisland.com/

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