Advisory canceled for waters near Puako

  • Houses along Puako Beach Drive. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today file photo)

Update: The state Department of Health’s Clean Water Branch Thursday afternoon canceled the advisory issued due to high levels of enterococci found in a sampling of ocean water from the “Puako Middle of Lot” on Wednesday.

Original post:

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Health officials on Wednesday issued a high bacteria count advisory for waters off Puako in South Kohala.

The advisory was issued due to high levels of enterococci found in a sampling of ocean water from the “Puako Middle of Lot” area, the Department of Health’s Clean Water Branch reported. The shoreline access area is located north of Ascension Mission Catholic Church and south of Puako Bay.

Levels of 945 enterococci per 100 mL were detected during routine beach monitoring. The EPA sets the threshold for enterococci at 130 enterococci per 100 mL.

“The advisory for this beach is posted because testing for enterococci indicate that potentially harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, or parasites may be present in the water. Swimming at beaches with pollution in the water may make you ill,” the advisory reads.

The advisory will remain in effect until water sample results no longer exceed the threshold level of 130 enterococci per 100 mL, according to the department.

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Enterococci are indicators of the presence of fecal material in water and, therefore, of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, according to the EPA.

Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are the most likely populations to develop illnesses or infections after coming into contact with polluted water, usually while swimming, according to the department. The most common illness associated with swimming in water polluted by fecal pathogens is gastroenteritis. In highly polluted water, swimmers may occasionally be exposed to more serious diseases.

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