General Health Advisory

The public is reminded that after any storm event, storm water runoff may contain sewage, harmful micro-organisms, and chemicals from commercial and industrial sources.

For more information, please refer to Current Warnings, Advisories, and Postings.

Sewage and Chemical Spills

The public should avoid contact with surface waters, such as the ocean or streams, that may be contaminated by a sewage spill or chemical spill. Sewage can contain harmful micro-organisms (pathogens) that can cause illness. Chemicals can cause various illnesses that can be fatal.

Usually coastal waters are safe to enter due to tidal flushing after 48 hours. However, the public should wait for further instructions from the Department of Health through media releases as to when the stream or coastal water is safe to enter.

Storm Water

The public should stay out of beaches or streams that are contaminated by storm (brown) water. Storm water can contain harmful micro-organisms (pathogens) and other harmful pollutants from overflowing sewage systems, such as cesspools or septic tanks, and animal feces flowing into storm drains.

Excessive storm water can also contain sewage from overflowing manholes or chemicals from polluted runoff from comercial and industrial facilities.

Standing water from heavy rains can also contain pathogens from cesspools in unsewered areas, such as the North Shore Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island.

Questions regarding the safety or cleaning of standing water or “brown water” in the coastal and inland areas of the State should be directed to the Department of Health, Clean Water Branch on Oahu at (808) 586-4309 during normal business hours.

Reporting Spills

The Department of Health monitors for spills, works with Counties, and invites the public to report spills to (808) 586-4309 during normal business hours.

On Oahu, sewage spills should be reported to the City and County of Honolulu at (808) 523-4423.

Chemical spills should be reported to the Department of Health, Hazard Evaluation & Emergency Response Office at (808) 586-4249 during normal business hours and (808)247-2191 after normal business hours.