bws logo black and white

For Immediate Release
July 3, 2019

E. Coli Bacteria Found in Board of Water Supply Waihee Tunnel

The water from this source is safe to drink because it is continuously disinfected before it reaches customers.

HONOLULU – The Board of Water Supply (BWS) is notifying the public that a water sample from BWS Waihee Tunnel has tested positive for the presence of E. coli bacteria.  As a result, BWS is providing public notice of the finding as required under the federal Ground Water Rule.  The water from this source is safe to drink because it is continuously disinfected before it reaches customers.  For this reason, no further action is required by customers.  Waihee Tunnel serves the area from Kahana to Waimanalo.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Ground Water Rule is a regulatory process aimed to reduce the potential risk of illness caused by microbial contamination in ground water. Under the Rule, utilities must test their ground water when coliform is detected in any sample collected from the water system. If E. coli is found in the ground water source, the rule requires the public to be notified. E. coli detection is not a rule violation, but the rule requires that the public be notified of the finding and that the BWS take corrective actions approved by the State Department of Health (DOH).

What should I do?

There is nothing you need to do.  This notice is a public announcement required under the drinking water regulations.

What Happened? 

In 2015 routine testing detected E. coli in a water sample from Waihee Tunnel.  At the time a public notice was issued and a corrective action plan that included monthly testing was prepared, approved by the Department of Health and implemented in accordance with the regulations.  On July 1, 2019, E. coli was detected in a water sample collected in accordance with the corrective action plan.  The BWS immediately notified the DOH of the finding and is informing the public as required by federal drinking water regulations.

What is E. coli?

E. coli bacteria can exist in tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate soil and may persist in soil for a number of years.  E. coli is a fecal indicator and microbe whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes.  Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, headaches, or other symptoms.  They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

What is being done?

BWS has determined that the water from this source is safe to drink because it was being disinfected on July 1, 2019 before it reaches customers.  For this reason, no further action is required by customers. The BWS is also consulting with DOH to determine the reason for the E.Coli presence.

For more information, please contact the BWS Water Quality Division at 748-5091 or the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1(800) 426-4791.

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly, for example people in apartments, nursing homes, schools and businesses.  You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

About the Board of Water Supply

The Board of Water Supply (BWS), a semi-autonomous agency of the City and County of Honolulu, manages Oahu’s municipal water resources and distribution system.  As the largest water utility in the State, the BWS serves approximately one million customers on Oahu.  The BWS embraces its mission of “Water for Life – Ka Wai Ola” – to provide a safe, dependable, and affordable water supply, now and into the future.  UwÄ“  ka lani, ola ka honua – “When the heavens weep, the earth lives.”  For more information, visit www.boardofwatersupply.com.

###


Contact:

Kathleen Elliott-Pahinui
Information Officer
Honolulu Board of Water Supply
Phone: (808) 748-5319

Erwin Kawata
Water Quality Administrator
Honolulu Board of Water Supply
Phone: (808) 748-5971