Torrential downpours on Monday morning swamped much of Honolulu, causing manholes in Waikiki to overflow and spill an estimated 500,000 gallons of sewage into the sea. As a result, city officials have closed down many of the beaches in the city, including Waikiki, Ala Moana Regional Park, and Point Panic in Kakaako.
Considering the run of fun-sized swell Honolulu has seen this summer, this pollution is especially depressing.
“What you have behind me is a major sewage back up,” said Lori Kahikina, director of the city’s Department of Environmental Services in a news conference on Monday at Waikiki. “With the heavy rains, it overwhelmed our system…Now’s not the time to go swimming,”
“We don’t know right now what is in the water. You could get a serious infection, get extremely sick or even worse,” Shane Enright, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Emergency Services told the Associated Press.
The heavy rainfall was tied to moist weather bands associated with Tropical Storm Kilo, which is projected to shift away from the islands.
It’s not clear yet when the city will open up the beaches again to the public. While the 500,000 gallons of untreated sewage that spilled into the ocean may seem shocking, in 2006, during a stretch of rain that lasted 40 days, an estimated 48 million gallons of wastewater was pushed through the Ala Wai Canal near Waikiki, which empties into Bowls.