‘Ualapu‘e Shaft in East Moloka‘i Tested Positive for E. Coli bacteria; Water Source Remains Safe to Drink

April 8, 2020, 9:38 AM HST · Updated April 8, 9:38 AM
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The Maui Department of Water Supply reports that it detected E. coli bacteria in the ʻUalapuʻe Shaft on Molokaʻi on April 7, 2020, in a water sample collected the previous day. (Note: E. coli testing takes 18 hours to complete).

“It is important for residents to note that this detection was in the shaft itself and not in the water source,” according to the Department. “The water in the ʻUalapuʻe system (on Molokaʻi) is safe to drink, because it has been disinfected, and no E. coli bacteria have been found in the distribution system.”

The water at the ʻUalapuʻe Shaft was sampled again on Tuesday, and updates will be provided as soon as they become available this (Wednesday) afternoon.

The information was contained in a routine notice sent out by DWS when E. coli is detected in any part of the water system. The notice is deemed mandatory by the state Department of Health.

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The County of Maui Department of Water Supply is completing a comprehensive assessment of its water system and its monitoring and operational practices to identify and correct any causes of the contamination.

E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, 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. E. coli can also exist in tropical, subtropical and temperate soils and may persist in soil over multiple years.

The public can call the DWS 24-hour hotline at 270-7633 if a water-related problem occurs or if there are any questions. General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available by calling the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

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