State says Waiahole water no longer contaminated but residents still angry

Local News

The state says water in Waiahole Valley is now safe to drink. Officials say results from three water samples are now negative for the presence of E. Coli.

But residents are angry. They say the state should have told them earlier that the water was not safe to drink.

Notices were sent out Thursday that E. Coli was found in the system supplying water to Waiahole Elementary School and the 80 homes in the valley.

Waiahole Poi Factory was also affected and was closed Friday. Some say the notice came too late and families got sick.

Residents say some families only got the notice Friday when state officials started knocking on their doors.

“My wife is sick, she’s still in the bed. My little boy, he came home from school, he’s still down, he stayed home from school today,” said Waiahole resident Elijah Kane.

He says he and his whole family were bedridden yesterday, including his 7-year-old daughter, who has a pre-existing medical condition.

“She was up all night sick, throwing up. I feel bad, she was holding her stomach, holding her stomach,” said Kane.

Residents were told Thursday afternoon to boil water that they plan to use for drinking, cooking, and washing dishes. The water system, which is owned by the the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation, has tested positive for E. Coli, which means it could be contaminated with human or animal waste.

“How worried were you when you found out?” KHON2 asked.
“Very, it’s scary when you see the word E. Coli,” said resident Pat Pilanca.

Waiahole Elementary School told students to bring their own water bottles. The Board of Water Supply also brought a water tank on campus. The state says it notified residents by email Thursday afternoon, but admits it didn’t have everyone’s email. So crews went to individual homes Friday.

Kane says he saw crews flushing out the fire hydrants a couple of hours before the emails were sent. So the state knew by then and should have notified residents sooner.

“When it comes to water and bad stuff, it’s an emergency call, sound the alarm. Tell all the people hey, stop! Don’t just start shooting out the system,” said Kane.

As to the cause of the contamination, the state says it could have been from the windy and rainy conditions on the day the sample was taken, or a water main break that happened last month.

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