Public remains skeptical of returning to Keehi Lagoon

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The state reopened Keehi Lagoon to the public Saturday after it was closed for a week, due to the molasses spill.

You would think this marks the end of the public relations drama, but it continues.

The state Department of Health announced Friday that water samples in Keehi Lagoon showed that oxygen levels are back and it’s safe to reopen to the public.

But Saturday morning, they forgot to take down a few signs that caused quite the confusion.

“Until further notice due to unsafe water quality,” Marcus Dacanay, of New Hope Canoe Club, reads from a sign still posted.

Dacanay says on Thursday, harbor police told his paddling club and others that it was unsafe to enter Keehi Lagoon because of high bacteria counts.

“We couldn’t go in the water because the bacteria found was the flesh-eating bacteria,” says Dacanay.

Saturday, the Department of Health reopened Keehi to the public but did not take down all of the warning signs.

The signs were posted on both sides of the Sand Island boat ramp causing some to second guess if it was safe to go in the water.

“If I see this sign right here, I think it’s closed. Whoever puts it up, should be responsible to take it down,” says Dacanay.

Others were enjoying all the open space.

“On a normal Saturday there’s 20 jet skis, the beach is loaded. It’s kind of bare today,” says Healani Canoe Club Coach Kealii Paiaina.

The ocean is starting to look more inviting as the dark cloud of molasses continues to dissipate.

“The first week we were practicing here it was kind of bad, it was all black and stink. The water seems to be a lot cleaner now,” adds Paiaina.

Some saw marine life also starting to make that same slow trickle back into the lagoon as well.

“You saw signs of life?” KHON2 asked a stand up paddler.

“Yeah, I saw some turtles,” Paul Malaspina smiled.

Signs of hope coupled with old signs of warning, reminding us of an environmental disaster that continues to tarnish these waters.

“I think someone dropped the ball somewhere along the line. If we are going to use the water here we want to make sure we are safe, that the kids that go in that are safe,” states Dacanay.

The DOH confirms the water is safe, and they will continue monitoring it closely.

They also sent someone Saturday to remove those remaining signs.

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