Worries over wastewater in our ocean

Published: Jan. 7, 2009 at 11:45 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 9, 2009 at 4:05 AM HST
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Barry White
Barry White

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Oahu's wastewater treatment centers have been discharging their final product into the ocean for years.

So problems with water quality should affect those who use the ocean around Oahu the most.

Just down the shore from the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant the ocean is uncrowded and inviting.

Herbert Anderson can't resist. He's been diving and surfing there for the past ten years.

And during that time, he hasn't had any adverse health effects from being in the water.

"Not for me and not for my friends," said the Aiea resident.

Over in Waikiki, surfers paddle in and out of the water at the Ala Wai Harbor.

Many are in the lineup, if the waves are big or small. Only runoff or sewage keeps them out of the ocean.

"I stayed out of the water about a month during that sewage spill a couple of years ago. Then I got sick afterwards, I don't know if I went into the water too soon," said Barry White of Honolulu.

Some have been impacted with staph infections from surfing in dirty water. But even they feel fighting for cleaner conditions is simply a losing battle.

"It concerns me, it concerns all of us. But I feel we can't do anything about it, like our voices don't matter. Cause there are only so many surfers compared to the community," said Lauren of Honolulu.

But the Surfrider Foundation, an organization that monitors the ocean, says cleaner waters are important to all of us.

"Hawaii is known for its oceans and they are a major tourist attraction. We can't afford any threat of contamination from sewage to our waters," said Stuart Coleman with the Surfrider Foundation.

For some, wastewater is just another concern as they hit the surf. But its not enough of a problem to keep them from diving into the ocean.

Watermen and women say cost is also a factor in how clean our waters should be. If the additional cleanup would be expensive, some say it would not make sense to step up wastewater treatment.