No warning signs posted after high bacteria levels detected in Ko Olina lagoon

The Hawaii Department of Health is reporting high levels of bacteria in a popular lagoon at Ko Olina.

The bacteria was detected Thursday in Lagoon One fronting Disney’s Aulani Resort and Four Seasons Resort Oahu.

The Department of Health says the bacteria was discovered during a routine check, but we found there were no warning signs alerting people of the potential danger.

According to the department, signs won’t be posted until Friday morning because of limited employee hours, however an advisory is posted on the state’s Clean Water Branch website.

We’re told the resorts were notified, and beach goers are advised to use their best judgment.

“Ocean waters are largely very good around the island, but on the other hand, theyre not sterile. There’s always some bacteria in the water,” said Stuart Yamada, DOH Environmental Management Division.

Water tests showed the bacteria level for enterococci was higher than normal. Testing is done in this location twice a month.

When we spoke to beach goer Aaron Reeves, he told us he’d been swimming “about 30 minutes to an hour. Yeah, I’ve been swimming the whole time. I mean, yeah, I even swallowed some on accident.”

Health officials say it’s not clear why the levels of bacteria were higher than normal, however it’s commonly found in things like soil and decaying vegetation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bacteria is also found in animal and human waste.

We asked the DOH if the bacteria was linked to recent sewage spills in the area.

“Thankfully not,” Yamada replied. “There is no evidence that there is any relationship.”

Although the levels are higher than usual, it’s not enough to close the beach.

“Could someone get sick if they go into the water?” KHON2 asked.

“It’s possible. It increases the chances of illness, but in no way does it mean you’re guaranteed you’re going to get sick,” Yamada said.

“I’m not really concerned about it. I’ve been out here roughly about 15 to 20 times and I don’t feel a difference,” Reeves said. “It seems fine to me. It looks the same as always. It feels the same.”

Signs advising the public will be posted Friday morning and will remain throughout the weekend.

Another round of tests will be done Monday.

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