Tropical Indicators Scientific Workshop

Dr. Roger Fujioka, Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH)


08/16/00 - 08/15/02


The goal of this study was to invite selected water quality experts to hold a two-day workshop in Hawaii for the purpose of completing several objectives:

To scientifically evaluate the findings and available data dealing with the presence of non-sewage derived, USEPA-approved, fecal bacterial indicators (fecal coliform, E. coli, enterococci/fecal streptococci) in tropical environments.

To evaluate the impact of these findings on the application of existing recreational water quality standards to these tropical areas, and to make conclusions and recommendations to address this problem.

To scientifically evaluate the research findings and available data on the use of alternative fecal indicators to monitor tropical environmental waters, to evaluate the applicability of alternative, more reliable standards, and to make conclusions and recommendations based on this evaluation.


1. Strategy. The strategy of this workshop was to primarily address the scientific issues related to environmental sources of fecal indicator bacteria in tropical areas. The impact of these findings on the regulatory issues such as on water quality standards was addressed from a scientific perspective rather than from a regulatory point of view. As a result, the criterion for selecting the experts invited to this workshop was based on their scientific credibility and their experience in addressing the identified problem as microbiologists, and from a public health point of view. People whose concerns are primarily based on regulations or other related issues such as protecting a specific beach or wanting more or less treatment for sewage were not selected to attend this workshop. However, in recognition of the interests by regulators, water treatment agencies, as well as recreational and environmental groups, representatives from these gropes were invited as observers to the workshop. Observers were not allowed to take part in the workshop deliberations but submitted questions which were considered by the workshop group. Since the principal investigator is from Hawaii an has worked closely with the Hawaii State Department of Health and US EPA, the workshop was held in Hawaii. To maximize the efficiency of deliberations, the number of experts invited to this workshop was limited to 20. Some scientists from USEPA were invited to this workshop.

2. The planning phase. The planning committee was comprised of 1. Roger Fujioka, University of Hawaii. 2. Alfred Dufour, USEPA Research Division. 3. Steve Schaub, USEPA, Office of Water. 4. Rick Hoffman, USEPA, Office of Water. 5. Gary Toranzos, University of Puerto Rico. 6. Eugene Akazawa, Hawaii State Department of Health. This committee decided upon the the goals and objectives of the workshop, the specific questions to be answered, the material to be distributed, the agenda for the workshop, the selection of the experts to be invited to this workshop, and review of the final report.

3. The workshop phase. The second phase of this study was the implementation of the workshop. The workshop lasted for two days. Each of the invited experts were asked to read the packet of information sent to them before they arrived at the workshop. Thus all the workshop delegates knew the goals and objectives prior to their arrival and read the pertinent literature on this subject. During this phase of the study, each of the invited experts provided their assessment to address all of the identified questions and raised other justifiable concerns. The points and justifiable issues raised were discussed and a attempt was made to reach consensus conclusions, opinions and recommendations.

4. The final report phase. The last phase of this study was the completion and publication of the final report. The principal investigator with the support of his home unit (WRRC) completed the draft final report which was sent to the participants for their comments and review. The draft report was revised based on these comments and the final report was written under the guidance of the planning committee. The final report will then be sent to all participants as well as the fund agencies (USEPA Office of Water, Hawaii State Department of Health), and other relevant agencies, such as each EPA regional offices, as well as the regulatory, monitoring and public health agencies in the identified areas (Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Florida).