County: E. coli found in Molokai well, but water safe

The bacteria was detected in the well shaft but not found in the water source

The Maui News – E. coli bacteria was found in the Ualapue Shaft in east Molokai for the second time in two months Tuesday, though the county Department of Water Supply emphasized that the water was safe to drink.

The bacteria was detected in the well shaft in a sample taken Monday and detected in the test Tuesday, the department said. The bacteria, which could indicate contamination of microbes from human or animal waste, was not found in the water source or distribution system.

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

The department advises the public when the presence of bacteria is detected in any part of the water system and deemed mandatory by the state Health Department.

The water in the shaft was sampled Tuesday and updates will be provided as soon as they become available this afternoon. E. coli testing takes 18 hours to complete.

The water department said it is completing a comprehensive assessment of the water system and monitoring and operational practices to identify and correct any causes of the contamination. There was a similar contamination of the shaft in mid-February.

E. coli can exist in tropical, subtropical and temperate soils for several years, the department said. It indicates the possible presence of microbes from human and animal waste, which can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms and may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems.

If a water-related problem occurs or for questions, call the 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.

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