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E. Coli Found in Ualapue Water

On Thursday, Dec. 8, the water source for Ualapue in east Molokai tested positive for E. coli bacteria. The water remained safe to drink, however, because water in the distribution system is disinfected, according to county Department of Water Supply (DWS) officials.

The water sample that tested positive for the bacteria was collected on Dec. 7 in the Ualapue Shaft, a well source water located mauka of the highway near Ualapue. No E. coli was found in the distribution system, so officials gave the all-clear to continue drinking the water.

The presence of E. coli can indicate contamination in the water from human or animal waste, according to the DWS. Symptoms caused by the microbes in this type of waste can include diarrhea, cramps, nausea and headaches. Infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems can be especially susceptible to risk.

It takes 18 hours for E. coli testing to be completed on water samples. After the initial detection from the Dec. 7 sample, followup samples were taken on Dec. 8. One of the five samples also came back positive for E. coli on Dec. 9, according to DWS officials.

“The Maui Department of Water Supply is consulting continuously with the Department of Health on the situation, and is performing increased monitoring within the distribution system and at the Ualapue Shaft to ensure that health protective treatment is occurring,” stated a DWS release last Friday. “In addition, we will be completing a comprehensive assessment of our water system and our monitoring and operational practices to identify and correct any causes of the contamination.”

No updates were available as of Sunday.

A 24-hour hotline is available for any water-related problems or questions at (808) 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 1-800-426-4791.

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