Heavy rain caused a 500,000-gallon sewage spill in Honolulu that sent dirty water streaming into the city’s famed Waikiki Beach, and officials warned people to stay out of the water or risk infection.
Heavy rains overwhelmed the sewage system Monday morning, provoking a half-a-million gallons of wastewater to leak from manholes.
This prompted officials to close a 4-mile stretch of waterfront, including the ocean fronting some of Hawaii’s biggest hotels and the center of the state’s tourism-driven economy.
Scott Murakawa, of the Hawaii Department of Health, takes a water quality sample at Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu, Tuesday, August 25, 2015.
Hawaii state Department of Health deputy director Keith Kawaoka said Wednesday levels have come down dramatically. Warning signs within these areas and along harbor entrances will remain.
“I guess a lot of people are freaked out about it. We still jumped in”.
Officials said Tuesday the Waikiki Beach area was not closed because of the nearby sewage spill.
Shayne Enright, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Emergency Services, cautioned that the ocean was risky.
However, test results show that the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, Kewalo Basin Small Boat Harbor, the canoe launch area adjacent to Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, the pond and canal along Ala Moana Boulevard, and the western end of Kakaako Park were impacted by the spill.
Kahikina reiterated her regret that city departments hadn’t better communicated with each other to ensure both pumping stations were operational. Officials advise if the water is brown, stay out. “For the tourist segment that isn’t English-speaking, they have no idea what’s going on and they’re carrying little infants into the water”.
Waikiki is not the only area of Oahu affected by the spill. The state Department of Environmental Services said that Kailua, Kaneohe and Kalanianaole Highway in Aina Hina also experienced overflowing sewer systems. “The public is advised to avoid contact with waters within the warning signs that are posted”.
The warning signs were removed Wednesday afternoon from Waikiki and Ala Moana beaches, and lifeguards were no longer actively discouraging beachgoers from entering the ocean.