Although our Blue Water Task Force program started collecting data in 2017, we had to take a break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This month marks the first time we have returned to testing since March.

We had a surprising result with a high bacteria level at Hoʻokipa West.  Historically we have rarely seen anything but low bacteria count there. When we see a high bacteria level like this, it could indicate a change, or it could be a one time event. Since one sampling does not give us the whole picture, we are eager to continue to collect data each month to look for long term trends.

Blue Water Task Force water testing is a citizen scientist program run by our chapter. Our volunteers take samples once a month, and we are partnered with Professor Donna Brown at UHMC where the samples are prepared and incubated for 24 hours. Then we get the results and post them online.

We are all volunteers who do this out of concern for the health and safety of our ocean going community, and to be better able to understand trends in our nearshore waters where we recreate. Our goal is to augment existing water sampling programs and provide more information to beachgoers and officials of potential hazards in Maui’s recreational waters. This program also seeks to establish a baseline of water quality information before further developments on the North Shore of Maui.

We test for enterococcus, a fecal indicator bacteria from warm blooded animals. High enterococcus bacteria levels could be a number of sources: it could be from cesspools, runoff after rain, or land use changes, to name a few. It did rain the afternoon and evening before we collected samples last week. 

You can access our long term data and see trends over time at https://bwtf.surfrider.org/report/51
We also have additional program information https://maui.surfrider.org/what-we-do/blue-water-task-force/

Mahalo to Professor Donna Brown and her students, and our sample collection volunteers Maikaʻi Kama, Courtlandt Gates, Greg Masessa, and Jenni Learned.