During a 2 p.m. news conference on Monday, City officials urged visitors and residents to get out of the water in world famous Waikiki Beach due to a massive sewage spill blamed on heavy rains.
The City is posting warning signs and having police officers and lifeguards warn people about the contamination in an area from the groin at Kapahulu Avenue to Point Panic, a popular body surfing spot in the Kakaako area. Ala Moana Regional Park is also closed.
"What you have behind me is a major sewage back up," said Lori Kahikina, director of the city's Department of Environmental Services.
"With the heavy rains, it overwhelmed our system."
The spill, which was originally estimated to be 100,000 gallons, is now believed to be about 500,000 gallons. Sewage poured from manholes at the intersection of Ala Moana and Atkinson Boulevards Monday morning as storm water overwhelmed the system.
Steve Casar of the Waikiki Yacht Club said the contaminated water came close to flowing onto club property this morning before subsiding.
"I saw a lot of water that smelled bad and basically it was over the road," he said.
In addition to the beaches, the public is advised to remain out of the waters in the areas from Kewalo Basin to Ala Wai Boat Harbor, the canal along Ala Moana Boulevard, and the pond near the Ala Moana Boulevard entrance.
The public is also advised to avoid contact with any standing water in the park near those areas, and along the intersection of Ala Moana Boulevard and Atkinson Boulevard.
"As it goes into the recreational waters... we're going to advise the public to stay out of the water," said Matthew Kurano, environmental health specialist with the state Health Department.
Officials say one of the causes, residents opened manholes to prevent their homes and cars from flooding after the storm drains backed up.
"All the leaves and debris clogged the storm drains so the water," says Lori Kahikina, the city's Director of Environmental Services, "Excess water floated all over the place."
The city says people need to realize that the storm drain system is separate from the sewage system and allowing rain water to flow into the manholes causes the sewage system to back up.
Although large, this is not the biggest sewage spill to impact Waikiki. The worst sewage spill in state history occurred in March 2006. After 40 days of constant, heavy rainfall, the City's sewer system was overwhelmed, forcing officials to flush 48-million gallons of untreated wastewater into the Ala Wai Canal. The spill caused the closure of numerous beaches, including Waikiki beach.