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Upgraded Website Provides Updates on Beach Water Quality

November 5, 2017, 2:00 PM HST (Updated November 5, 2017, 1:03 PM)
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Carlsmith Beach Park. Oct. 20, 2017. PC: Damon Tucker

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) has announced a newly upgraded website offering public access to the latest information on water quality at local beaches.

The site, which includes integrated aerial photos from Google maps, informs users when beaches are impacted by sewage spills or may have hazardous levels of bacteria present.

“This was a collaborative effort within the Department of Health and with others in the community,” said Keith Kawaoka, DOH deputy director of environmental health. “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.”

The website upgrade is part of a larger, more comprehensive program to eliminate manual processes and automate data analysis.

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“This is just the beginning; there’s more to come,” Kawaoka said. “In the future, we’ll be able to use the data to improve efficiency in the beach warning notification system and use the data for other purposes.”

Once fully operational, the new system will automatically generate advisory texts with the affected location and details. The system will alert DOH Clean Water Branch staff of the pending advisory so it can be reviewed and submitted with ease.

“The State of Hawai‘i has taken an important step to ensure public safety by promptly notifying the public about potential human health risks and improving access to beach monitoring data,” said Tomas Torres, director of the Water Division at EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “The DOH’s partnership with Surfrider and other stakeholders exemplifies a notable bottom-up collaboration that results in tangible human health and environmental protection for residents and visitors in Hawai‘i.”

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The new website provides a number of features and functions including:

  • Email updates on all beach advisories;
  • Quick overviews of all active advisories;
  • Details from a specific advisory anywhere in the state;
  • View types and specific locations of warning signs posted at beaches;
  • View documents, pictures, or files of beach posted by the Clean Water Branch team; and
  • Notifications when an advisory is closed and no longer active.

Media and others interested in conducting research on a specific beach are able to:

  • Sort advisories by island or their status, whether they are active or closed;
  • View, in table form, all current and past advisories, the type of advisories that were issued, and the island; and
  • Download advisory information into an Excel file.

In the future, the new system will allow users to:

  • Select the type of advisories they wish to receive;
  • Select the specific island for which an advisory is posted; and
  • Opt to receive text messaging for advisories.
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