City Directs 375,000 Gallons of Untreated Wastewater into Ocean

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Officials are warning people to stay out of the Ala Wai Canal, and the beaches nearby, because of a massive amount of untreated sewage in the water.

An estimated 375,000 gallons of untreated wastewater had to be diverted into the canal to avoid more problems.

Officials say the heavy rains Friday night threatened to overflow the entire system, so the bypass was needed. "

They had surfing lessons going on today, so they had tourists out there, and nobody was aware of it," said one surfer at Ala Moana Bowls, which is right at the mouth of the Ala Wai. "So what do we do when we get e-coli?"

Signs were put up along the canal, and at nearby beaches warning of the spill.

But some surfers we talked to say they saw no signs.

"When we went out, there were no notices," said one surfer. "And when we come out, now we found out they're saying not to go out, and we went out at noon."

The state Department of Health has been notified, and water samples are being taken.

Crews have been working non-stop since Friday morning to repair the 42-inch sewer main.

Besides the rain, officials say they're having problems because they can't get to the broken main.

"We made several attempts, but the sheer amount of wastewater passing through the pump station and the lines that feed it have kept us from getting to the main, " said Eric Takamura in a press release.

Takamura is director of the city's Department of Environmental Services.

"Another complicating factor is the existing underground utilities. We have to proceed cautiously to avoid damaging them."

Takamura says the main was installed in 1964, and designers were already putting together a replacement.

That is expected to start next year.

The break happened on Kaiolu Street in Waikiki. That street, and parts of Ala Wai Boulevard, remain closed during the work. It's not known when the repairs will be completed.