Tulsi Gabbard and HHC volunteers collected samples of sand to evaluate bacteria levels (enterococcus and clostridium perfringens) at public beaches around Oahu that were affected by the recent sewage spills. These are the bacteria the Hawaii State Department of Health uses for testing the water, and are the best indicators for contamination from human waste.
Gabbard, HHC’s co-founder and vice-president, said “Due to the recent sewage spills, the question of any possible contamination of the sand is something people want to know. People have a right to know whether our beaches are clean or not. Knowledge is power and people need to be empowered.
“Based on the results, it seems some of the areas are cleaner than what a lot of us worried they would be, especially in the Waikiki area. I know my friends and I will feel a lot more comfortable there. The area that we are still concerned about is Kailua Beach, which has higher bacteria levels. This is not surprising, since Kailua Beach has been contaminated longer, has only been open for swimming for the last couple days, and is contaminated more regularly from the canal. So people going to Kailua Beach may want to use their judgment, and be cautious about playing in the sand.
“Overall, I’m relieved to get these results and hope they bring some peace of mind to others. I am also happy that by doing these tests we have spurred the UH and Dept of Health to do their own tests, and we will be interested to see if their results confirm our findings. It will be interesting to see what the State and other experts come up with.”
The sand tests were conducted by a private lab using a methodology obtained from the State Department of Health’s Environmental Microbiology Department.
To see the sand test results: Click here.
See the local and international news coverage of HHC’s sand testing: