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High bacteria levels prompt warning signs at Big Isle, Maui beaches

The state Department of Health’s Clean Water Branch posted advisory signs at various beaches on the Big Island and Maui to notify the public of high levels of enterococci.

Stuart Yamada, chief of the Environmental Management Division, said the high count is due to storm water runoff associated with last week’s heavy rainfall.

Water samples collected Mar. 2 showed bacterial levels at Kihei (South) at 1,184 colony-forming units (cfu) per 100 milliliters, far exceeding the recreational water quality standard of 130 cfu per 100 milliliters. At Launiupoko Beach Park, the count was 364 cfu.

On the Big Island, water samples collected at Kona Coast Beach Park indicated increased levels of enterococci at 384 cfu.

Health officials warn the public that contact with the water may cause nausea, stomach pains, diarrhea, fever or infection to the eyes, ears nose and throat.

The Clean Water Branch visited affected beaches Monday to collect water samples to determine whether there has been a drop in the bacteria count.

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