Hawaii health officials testing water at Kapoho

By Cam Tran
Published On: Aug 21 2014 07:53:24 PM HST

The Department of Health tested Kapoho coastlines and ponds Thursday for contaminants and pollutants caused by Iselle.

PUNA, Hawaii -

Nearly two weeks after Tropical Storm Iselle slammed the Kapoho coastline on the Big Island, debris still litters the streets, the waters and the homes in Vacationland.

Click here to watch Cam Tran's report.

"In our storage unit, there was paint, there was oils.  We were doing flooring there.  There was pesticides and turpentine.  Just everything you'd have in your garage," said Vacationland homeowner Kathy Sullivan.

Now, residents like Sullivan worry all of the chemicals could be in the prized ponds near the coastline.

"The ponds are really, really contaminated. Some of them stick. You can't even get next to them," said Sullivan.

That's where Liz Galvez from the Department of Health comes in.  With her bucket and empty bottles, she roamed Vacationland taking water samples from the coastal waters and various private ponds.

This is a unique situation.  For the state, we don't normally go on private properties to test for private residences, but the community has voiced their concerns.  That's why we are being responsive to them," said Galvez.

In response to those concerns, the Department of Health will also test for any bacteria infestations which could indicate breach of septic systems and cesspools and pollutants.

"What we do is take these 1-liter sample jars and we will fill it with water and we are shipping the chemical samples back to Honolulu where they will be tested for organic phosphates, which are essentially pesticides and oil petroleum products," said Galvez.

Although some of Vacationland's coastline looks clean and inviting enough to swim or snorkel, some residents are wary.

"We got back our pond.  Was crystal clear.  You could see every little fish in it.  It was beautiful.  Now, look at it.  It's brown.  Where's all the brown coming from?" asked Sullivan.

That's exactly what state health officials are trying to find out, as well.

Bacteria and chemical tests should be back by next week.  Until then, a brown water advisory remains in effect for the area around Cape Kumukahi down to Kalapana.

PHOTOS: Iselle storm damage, preps

Click here to see storm damage from Iselle.

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