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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tests show no bacteria in water

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Staff Writer

Waiahole Valley residents yesterday were cleared to resume drinking their water after new test results showed no signs of fecal coliform or the E. coli bacteria.

Residents of 140 Waiahole residential and agricultural lots had been warned Wednesday to boil any tap water used for drinking or cooking after the bacteria was discovered in water distribution pipes.

Follow-up tests conducted on Thursday showed no sign of the bacteria, state officials said yesterday.

"We're absolutely thrilled to lift the boil-water notice at this time," said Janice Takahashi, acting executive director of the Hawai'i Housing Finance and Development Corp., which owns and operates the water well system in the agricultural valley on Windward O'ahu.

"It's nice to have a clean bill of health and be back to normal," added Emil Wolfgramm, president of the Waiahole Landowners Association. "Now, we don't have to waste gas boiling water anymore."

Wolfgramm said his family boiled two large pots of water Thursday night, anticipating that the problem might continue.

"It was an inconvenience, and it's a relief that it's over," he said.

Officials yesterday were still not sure what caused the initial positive test results that prompted the order to boil water in the area, Takahashi said. A contaminated sample container was one possible source that was being investigated, she added.

Tests on Tuesday taken at Waiahole Elementary School showed E. coli bacteria, prompting the initial warning to residents and forcing the postponement of the first day of school, which had been set for yesterday.

Department of Education officials said yesterday that the school, which serves about 95 students, will open on Monday. The discovery of the bacteria did not affect any other schools in the Windward area, Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen said.

Department of Health officials said they'll continue to monitor the Waiahole wells and distribution system and work with the housing agency to guard against future problems.

Reach Mike Leidemann at mleidemann@honoluluadvertiser.com.