Officials: E. coli found but water OK

The Maui News

E. coli bacteria, which could indicate contamination by human or animal waste, was detected in the Ualapue Shaft in east Molokai on Tuesday but not in the source or distribution system that services residents, the county Department of Water Supply said.

“The water is absolutely safe for residents to use and drink,” the department said Tuesday in a news release.

The department sends out notices when bacteria is detected in any part of the water system and deemed mandatory by the state Department of Health.

E. coli was detected Tuesday in a water sample collected the previous day from the 42-foot well shaft. The testing takes 18 hours to complete.

Water at the shaft was sampled again Tuesday, and updates will be provided as soon as they become available this afternoon. `The water department currently is completing a comprehensive assessment of the system and monitoring and operational practices to identify and correct the cause of the contamination.

Microbes in animal and human wastes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems.

E. coli also can exist in tropical, subtropical and temperate soils and may persist in soil over several years.

Residents are urged to pass along the notice to their neighbors.

For more information or to report a water-related problem, call the department’s 24-hour hotline at 270-7633. General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available by calling the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791.