Are Warning Signs Enough?

Warning signs dot a crowded Waikiki Beach.
Warning signs dot a crowded Waikiki Beach.

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- More questions are being raised about warning signs that were supposed to alert the public to dangers lurking in the water.

169 warning signs were posted along the Ala Wai canal after the city diverted millions of gallons of raw sewage into the canal last Friday.

No signs were put up warning folks of a bacteria that took the life of 34 year old Oliver Johnson Thursday night. Vibrio Vulnificus is a deadly marine bacteria that can create toxins that can cause flesh-eating bacteria in the body.

This is the same bacteria that killed California visitor Herb Weisenfeld in 2001. His wife Eleanor asked the state to put up a warning sign in front of the Ahalanui Hot Springs on the big island after his death.

"I think to post signs and warn people is kind of silly in my opinion. if you're going to post signs like drinking and driving," says Libby Char of Emergency Medical Services

Rhere are signs warning you when to cross the street. There are signs telling you not to feed the birds because of disease. There are even signs warning you of the dangers of leptospirosis. The city took down some signs at Waikiki beach after bacteria counts went down.

Some of the warning signs are still posted. In all, the city posted more than 225 warning signs in the area.

"Were not ignoring the water. The water is being tested. water around the island is tested on a regular basis. and when the levels are high of certain triggers, signs are posted," says Char.

Even though the state Department of Health is responsible for putting up the warning signs, the city is saying it did its part.

"The signs were posted there from day one. And we have crews consistently making rounds and they document any signs of it being removed," says Ken Kawahara of the city's Environmental Services.

"Before the raw sewage went into the Ala Wai, there were always problems with the purification if you will of the Ala Wai canal. Even back when I was an athlete at Iolani school running around the Ala Wai canal, we were always told in the 70's be careful, don't fall into the Ala Wai. With that being said, obviously one of the reasons were having this press conference today is to ensure the people, that we took all the necessary steps," say Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann.

Mayor hannemann says he plans to pass along the recommendation of putting up a permanent sign to the state. Health officials couldn't be reached for comment.