The Natural Resources Defense Council has named 15 communities in Hawai`i “Beach Bums” because of poor water quality monitoring and public notification procedures for storm or sewage spill-related pollution. In its 13th annual report (PDF) on U.S. beach water quality, the NRDC cited a total of 55 “bum beaches,” including 19 in New York. The report also acknowledged Hawaii’s high water quality standards, however, and some of the island beaches named are not heavily used.
Pollution in Hawai`i waters is monitored by the Clean Water Branch of the state Department of Health.
“Hawaii’s bacteria standard is one of the strictest in the nation, but the department does not regularly test all beaches and does not always close or post a beach if the standard has been exceeded,” noted the 2003 State of the Beach report by the Surfrider Foundation.
The “Beach Bums” in Hawai`i were:
- O`ahu: Diamond Head Beach, Keehi Lagoon, Sunset Beach
- Maui: Airport/North Ka`anapali Beach, Fleming Beach (South), Kamaole Beach II, Keawakapu Beach, Olowalu Beach
- Big Island: Hilo Bay, Spencer Beach
- Kauai: Kalihiwai Bay Beach, Kapaa Beach, Kealia Beach, Wailua Beach
Overall, the NRDC reported that water testing was improving, but water quality was not. Last year, California and Florida saw the most of the 12,000 total beach closings related to polluted water the highest count in 13 years. High bacteria levels were responsible for 67 percent of the closings.
Five beaches were named “Beach Buddies” for good water quality prorams.