During heavy rains, 9M gallons of sewage spilled in Windward Oahu

KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gray skies coupled with signs warning beach goers of sewage in the water kept most people away from Kailua Beach Park Thursday.

But despite the risk of getting sick, there were a few who chose to chance it.

"We did assess before we went out. It didn't seem to bad in terms of the brown water. It was clear. You could see the bottom," said swimmer Cara Campora.

Test results tell a different story. In some places in the area, bacteria levels are more than 200 times higher than what's considered safe.

That's largely because during Sunday's torrential rains, nearly nine million gallons of wastewater spilled at five locations on Windward Oahu.

That's 18 times bigger than the spill that shut down Waikiki beaches three years ago.

"I know the public feels this is bad. I agree it's bad. But I'm actually impressed that we didn't spill more," said Lori Kahikina, city director of Environmental Services.

At Kaneohe Pretreatment Facility on the Kaneohe Bay shoreline alone, some 6.5 million gallons of sewage spilled.

The spill started about 2 p.m. Sunday and ran through 12:20 a.m. Monday.

Officials said the facility usually has a daily sewer flow of 6.4 million gallons. But over the weekend, it got between 25 and 28 million gallons because of all the storm water.

Meanwhile, about 2 million gallons spilled at Ahuimanu Pretreatment Facility.

Spills were also reported on Grote Road, Popoia Road, and there were two on Kawailoa Road.

Officials said of the 8.8 million gallons spilled on Windward Oahu, about 42,000 gallons were recovered by city crews.

On Thursday, Kahikina said the amount of water that went through the treatment plants during the storm was quadruple the norm. She also confirmed the city doesn't know where it's coming from.

"We really haven't gotten to the bottom of where it's entering," said Kahikina.

With more wet weather in the forecast, HNN asked what the city is doing to prevent more spills.

"I'm not sure if we could prevent it. But we can minimize it hopefully," Kahikina said.

She added the city is working to make sure all of its tanks are available, and she reminded the public not to intentionally divert water into the sewer system.

Officials from the state say the brown water advisory that's currently in effect could be extended through the weekend, depending on the weather.

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