Blue Water Task Force
Surfrider Foundation deploys the power of citizen science to gather data about bacteria levels present in ocean water at local beaches. Every two weeks, volunteers go to 17 beaches across the island to collect and share the data. VIEW DATA HERE.
This program exists to alert citizens and officials in their communities about water quality problems and to work toward solutions. If you want to volunteer to become a citizen scientist, e-mail our BWTF Coordinator Dan Amato at email@example.com.
What do we test for?
We test for enterococcus, which is a bacteria that naturally occurs in the intestines of warm-blooded animals – mammals and birds. Enterococcus is a fecal-indicator bacteria, frequently used to measure recreational water safety across the country and around the world.
Enterococcus does not directly cause human illness.
When enterococcus is present in the water, it suggests that fecal contamination may have occurred and other pathogens, viruses, or bacteria may be present in the water that can cause sickness. Enterococcus is therefore measured to indicate the risk of getting sick from other illness-causing pollutants in the water.
Swimming in contaminated water can lead to recreational water illness, with symptoms including gastrointestinal illness, ear infections, skin rashes, and potentially worse. Children and people suffering from autoimmune disorders run a higher of getting sick after swimming in polluted waters.
BWTF data supplements the work of the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH). The DOH Clean Water Branch’s water quality data is available to the public. For more information, or to report a spill, go to the Clean Water Branch’s website or simply call the Clean Water Branch at 808-586-4309.
Can you surf after it rains?
TIP: Do not go in the water for up to 72 hours after a big rainfall. These rain events cause upstream waste, pathogens, and toxins to flow into our ocean and increases your risk of infection and illness.
Not all areas are created equal. Some places are worse due to their proximity to storm drains and land-based outflows, like Ala Moana Bowls. If you do enter the water after a rain, make sure you wash off with fresh water as soon as you get out and take a shower when you get home. More information HERE and HERE.
Check out WAI Clean Water, which works to directly to eliminate cesspools from Hawaii.