Keehi Lagoon sewage spill remains a mystery

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It’s a mystery that hasn’t been solved. What was the source of a sewage spill at Keehi Lagoon three months ago?

It’s a spill that keeps causing problems for those who use the area.

The City told canoe clubs this week that the lagoon won’t be available for races anytime soon because of water contamination.

The message on signs posted at the lagoon are very clear: contaminated water.

“Purely as a precautionary measure, we’re keeping the signs up and doing continuous testing until we can complete our project in about a month, month-and-a-half,” Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina said.

“It is disappointing, it’s kind of dangerous, yeah,” said Ben Selepeo, Windward Kai Canoe Club.

Twice a day, for the past several months, the City has gathered water samples at Keehi Lagoon, checking for sewage contamination.

The mystery first surfaced in February when the city reported that an estimated 3,000 gallons of sewage spilled into Keehi Lagoon.

Officials said the source was a cracked pipe near the Nimitz Highway viaduct.

Turns out the there may not have been a crack at all and it’s not even clear if the leak was coming from sewer lines.

“We cleared it out completely of wastewater and we sent a camera up to inspect the line and there were no gross defects detected, but just as a precautionary measure the City is still going to rehabilitate those two lines,” Kahikina said.

What is clear is that water samples taken then showed signs of sewage contamination, which prompted the cancellation of a championship canoe regatta for children.

Earlier this week, canoe associations were told Keehi Lagoon could not be used for upcoming summer regattas.

“Spillage over here, so they told us to go elsewhere to do the regatta,” Selepeo said.

The City says material to re-line the 42-inch pipe is expected to arrive in two to three weeks and installation could take additional three weeks.

“It’s very difficult. Kids have come down with infections things like that through the sewage spills, so it’s kind of dangerous for our kids to be out there,” said Julie McBane, Elks Canoe Club.

“I just wish they fix it fast,” Selepeo said.

The health department is working with the City to analyze daily samples.

“We’re so sorry and just be patient and hopefully within a month-and-half. We can get out of there and they can have their beautiful ocean back,” Kahikina said.

But only if water samples come back clean. If not, the mystery still exists.

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