East Hawaii News

AP Report Finds Hawai’i with ‘Safer’ Levels of Lead in Water

April 11, 2016, 4:11 PM HST
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water pixabayVolcanic soil and few lead pipes are among the reasons why the water quality in Hawai’i has stayed within federal testing limits in the past handful of years, according to officials.

The Associated Press recently conducted an analysis of lead contamination using data from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The AP found that Hawai’i, along with Washington, D.C., were the only areas in the country that did not exceed federal limits for lead over the past three years.

“We are lucky,” Joanna Seto, chief of the Hawai’i Department of Health’s Safe Water Drinking Branch told the AP. “The biggest thing is that we have no lead pipes in Hawai’i in our drinking systems and we have mostly ground water.”

A multitude of groundwater sources, lack of industrial pollutants in large amounts, and pipes that weren’t built with led are among the factors that have kept the state within federal levels.

In its study, the AP found that across the nation, nearly 1,400 water systems that serve 3.6 million Americans have violated the federal lead standard at least once between Jan. 1, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2015.

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A portion of the systems in violation served schools and daycares, 275 of them exclusively.

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Being below limit doesn’t mean that the Hawai’i’s water systems are completely in the clear. The AP reported that drinking water tests at Marine Corps Base Hawai’i and Naval Magazine Lualualei showed levels over eight parts per billion. Fifteen parts per billion is the federal limit.

Over a 10 year period, Hawai’i has had six water systems that tested over the limit of 15 parts per billion.

“To the best of our ability, we haven’t been able to find any records that we have lead pipes in our system,” Erwin Kawata told the AP. Kawata is a program administrator for the Honolulu Board of Water Supply’s Water Quality Division.

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According to Kawata, ground water in Hawai’i isn’t acidic, which makes it less likely to corrode metal pipes and a large amount of water in the state is from aquifers that is filtered underground by volcanic rock for years before being used.

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