New Water Quality Alert

On Friday, November 3rd, 2017, the state Department of Health Clean Water Branch unveiled a new water quality alert notification system for Hawaii’s beaches with more user-friendly features.

The new website offers up-to-date information on bacteria levels and brown-water advisories along with aerial photos from Google maps. The new features were based on feedback from external stakeholders and funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Keith Kawaoka, Department of Health’s deputy director of environmental health, stated

“The input we received allowed us to develop a much more robust beach monitoring and notification system that will serve as a valuable tool for the community.”

On the left side of the website, there are “Viewer”, “Watershed Based Plans”, “Polluted Runoff Projects”, and “Advisories” tabs (see image below).

Some of the new features include:

  • A quick overview of all active advisories in a single list.
  • Search functions that allow users to search for information by island and type of advisory.
  • Pin icons on a map that users can click on to show advisories for specific locations, as well as the date they were posted.
  • The ability to subscribe to notifications by hitting a button on the website instead of requesting a subscription via email.
  • Notifications to subscribers when water advisories have been canceled. Currently they are notified only when advisories have been issued.

In the future, the new system will allow users to receive notifications via text message and select the specific island and types of advisories they wish to get.

The Clean Water Branch is required to establish a beach monitoring program for the state’s more than 250 beaches and to provide public notification when bacteria levels exceed a specified threshold level. This includes advisories for temporary or permanent elevations of bacteria, sewage spills, or brown-water advisories following rainy weather that causes runoff to the beaches. Signs are also posted on beaches.