Waikiki Beach closed after 500,000 gallon raw sewage spill

Waikiki Beach closed after 500,000 gallon raw sewage spill
Desiree Smith
Desiree Smith

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Miles of beaches are still closed Monday night after about half a million gallons of raw sewage overflowed on Atkinson Drive and then poured into the Waikiki side of Magic Island.

Lifeguards at Waikiki Beach warned people to stay out of the water every ten minutes because of the potential for contaminated water.

"Please stay out of the water at least for the next couple of days or until we get the OK to go in," said Shayne Enright, Emergency Medical Services spokeswoman.

"Don't take the risk. We don't know what's in the water, you could get a serious infection get extremely sick or even worse," Enright said.

There was brown water seen coming out of a storm drain into the ocean near the Honolulu Zoo. It's unclear if it's sewage or just brown water. But the State Department of Health took samples on Monday and will be testing them over the next couple of days.

Officials are asking beachgoers to keep out of the water from Kapahulu Groin to Point Panic until then. Some are listening, others are not.

"Even if they don't let me, I'm still going in…that's a lot of water there, I don't think a little particle is gonna hurt me," said California visitor Adam Rago.

"I was coming down to have a swim but I think I might pass now, it doesn't seem like paradise when you think there could be nasties floating in it," Waikiki beachgoer Desiree Smith said.

City officials said the problem stemmed from heavy rains from overnight and debris that got into the city's sewer system. Plus they said some people illegally opened manholes in their neighborhoods to alleviate flooding, sending rainwater into the sewer system.

The city also said the problem was exacerbated because a nearby pump station was closed for construction.

The closure of Waikiki Beach not only kept some tourists away, but it closed down some nearby businesses.

"We have to close early today because we're not gonna rent anything right now," said Joshua Kishaba with Hawaiian Oceans.

"The summer is usually the busiest time of the year. It's kinda a bad day for our company," he said.

The city said they were able to patch up the sewer system, allowing them to handle the next heavy rains.

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