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Better Public Notice of Beach Pollution in Hawaii

08 • 02 • 2016

Better Public Notice of Beach Pollution in Hawaii

The goal of this campaign is to convince the Hawaii State Department of Health to post warning signs at chronically polluted beaches and at any beach when a Brown Water Advisory is issued, similar to signs posted by lifeguards to warn beach goers of rough wave conditions.

The Kaua'i Chapter helped launch this campaign by asking the Hawaii Dept. of Health's Clean Water Branch to monitor more beaches and post warning signs at beaches contaminated with bacterial pollution for years now.  In spite of increasing pressure to warn the public, there remain chronically polluted beaches on Kauai and across the Islands that are not posted.  The Kauai Chapter's Blue Water Task Force program shared their water quality information with the public and the Environmental Protection Agency, and Surfrider's regional and national staff also began to reach out to the EPA to make sure that the HDOH upheld their own laws and posted signs at contaminated beaches.  After launching a national Action Alert about the issue and setting up meetings across the country with local, state and federal officials, the EPA issued a stern letter to the Hawaii Department of Health stating that they need to uphold their own laws about posting warning signs at polluted beaches and coastal areas.  If they don't, the HDOH would risk losing funding for their water quality testing from the BEACH Act.  Although HDOH's Clean Water Branch has posted some warning signs at the worst spots like Waiopili Stream / Gillians Beach on Kauai and Keehi Lagoon on Oahu, there are still many beaches that require signs.  So this is an important victory in the short run, but more signs and better public notification is still needed.