After KHON2’s first story aired about the swimming pool at Kailua District Park being shut down because of duck droppings, many viewers weighed in via social media about how to handle the problem.
The city’s solution was to use flags and decoys to scare away the ducks, but last week the pool still had to be shut down for four days.
On Tuesday, the state health department addressed potential health risks from swimming in the dirty water.
“In Hawaii, swimming pool illnesses have been rare and we haven’t had any linkage to any feral animals, so we do not have a concern at this point,” said Peter Oshiro, environmental health program manager.
While illnesses are rare, Oshiro said it’s still an issue that must be addressed.
“If we do have an incident where there is fecal matter inside a swimming pool, the swimming pool operator needs to get as much out as possible,” Oshiro said. “They need to close the pool and shock the pool.”
Treating the pool prevents the transmission of bacteria and viruses such as E. coli, salmonella and cryptosporidium, or “anything that comes from the animal gut that can be expelled in fecal matter. That’s the danger of having it around humans,” said Oshiro.
So in this case, the city is right to close the pool when duck droppings are found, but it’s what officials are doing to fix the problem that raised questions.
The city is currently using waving flags and decoys to scare the ducks away. KHON2 contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to see if this would work.
“Usually those are short-term solutions because what happens when the ducks aren’t actually hurt, they get habituated to those things so they tend to work for only a short period of time,” said biologist Annie Marshall.
The quickest overall fix would just be to cover the pool, but after checking with a pool company, KHON2 found it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to cover the Olympic-sized pool.
But there could be an easier fix that doesn’t cost anything — eliminating what pool users say is attracting the ducks in the first place.
“Cynthia Thielen actually talked to the woman and said it was against the law to feed the ducks, but it seems to still be going on because the ducks are here,” said Larry Williams, Aulea Swim Team President.
“Feral animals do not need to be fed by the general public,” Oshiro agreed. “It just causes problems for everyone else.”