HONOLULU (KHNL) - The city announced Thursday that more than 48-million gallons of untreated sewage total has spilled into the Ala Wai canal. As a result, nearby beaches will remain closed until bacteria counts level off.
Heavy rains coupled with the sewage problem are keeping visitors like Jeff Gallagher from getting into waters off Waikiki.
"It's been pretty disappointing, you know. With all the rain and trying to go surfing, you can't get in the water because there's supposedly it's bad for your health," says Jeff Gallagher.
Warning signs have been posted around Magic Island and at beaches in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village and Fort DeRussy. This is the first time a beach has been closed since the 1970's. The sewage was diverted to the Ala Wai canal from a sewer line that ruptured on Friday.
"The city had no other choice. had we not done that, as our outlet, our release, the negative impact from having homes, businesses, restaurants and hotels with wastewater backed up in those areas, would have been catastrophic," says Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann.
"So were spending a lot of time in the bars and restaurants instead of on the beach,"says Gallagher.
"The sewage and the wet weather is not helping Hawaii's image, but Waikiki businesses and hotels, they're not complaining."
"I don't think anyone knew about the sewage spill until they're here. So they have no where to go, so they come for our world famous cheese burgers," says Cheeseburger in Paradise manager Debbie Elmy.
But there's more good news, the bacteria counts are going down. Health officials are hoping the rain will help wash away the wastewater. They anticipate the bacteria counts level off in several days.