Warning signs are up in Hilo after thousands of gallons of sewage discharged from an overflowing manhole Monday morning.
Hawaii County officials say an estimated 10,000 gallons of raw sewage seeped out in 30 minutes.
Residents and visitors are being ask to not enter the Wailuku River or Hilo Bay until the Department of Health determines the water is once again safe.
Authorities received a report around 10:00 a.m. from someone who saw sewage discharge at the intersection of Laimana Street and Waianuenue Avenue. When crews arrived on scene, they found the well was full of sewage.
The director of Hawaii County Civil Defense said the manhole was actually connected to a four-inch drainage line that leads to the Wailuku River. The river runs right into Hilo Bay.
“We’re trying to be safe so we're closing down Hilo Bay, access to the bay, so that nobody is put into a situation where they run into raw sewage," said Talmadge Mango.
Mango said it is very clear what caused the health hazard.
"When they cleared the blockage, they pulled out plastic bags, trash bags and t-shirts and that kind of material, somewhat bulk material got into that line and clogged it," Mango said.
Mango said he has no idea how those bulky items got there.
The director of the county’s Department of Environmental Management William Kucharski said the four-inch drainage line should not have been connected to the manhole and when crews found it they were “shocked.”
Area waters are being tested. It could take days to complete.