Some Still Leery of Water Near Ala Wai

Lorna Laaloa, Waikiki Yacht Club
Lorna Laaloa, Waikiki Yacht Club
Akila Takabayashi, surfer
Akila Takabayashi, surfer

(KHNL) - A year ago Saturday, a sewer line in waikiki broke. The city decided to divert the wastewater into the Ala Wai Canal, turning out to be the worst spill in the city's history.

Today, people are pretty forgiving, considering what the city has done since, like installing a huge bypass pipe.

But the real test is if they'll go back into the water.

The ladies of the Waikiki Yacht Club get ready for a big 2007 season. They want to rebound after a disappointing 2006.

"We lost quite a few paddlers and obviously, the conditions back then when the spill just occurred, i mean, makes sense," said Lorna Laaloa.

A total of 48-million gallons of sewage ended up in the water after six days of pumping.

"You could smell the water and you could see, it just looked unclean, dirtier, browner than usual," said Laaloa.

But today, the paddlers say the Ala Wai is as clean as it ever was.

"None of the women voiced any concern, so we were happy about this year," said Laaloa.

Others have a different opinion.

"I just stay away," said surfer Akila Takabayashi.

He says he stayed out of the water for three months after the spill. And he still won't surf at Ala Moana bowls -- at the mouth of the Ala Wai.

"You can see the water is a little different, and it doesn't smell like bowls," said Takabayashi. "For me health-wise, it's not worth it anymore."

However, after a year, it's a chance many others are willing to take.

The work isn't done for city crews yet. They're installing a second bypass line, running to the pump station.

All the work should be done by October.