Mayor: ‘I would share the blame with everyone’ concerning sewage spill

The beaches at Waikiki and Ala Moana are now open. Officials say test results from the water samples show bacteria levels have gone down, so it’s safe to go in the ocean.

City officials said the sewage spill was also considerably less than the originally reported 500,000 gallons. Instead, just under 400,000 gallons spilled, with 264,000 extracted, so 129,000 gallons went in the ocean.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell admits that mistakes were made and the city should be more prepared for the storms to come this hurricane season.

While city and state officials confirmed that two of Oahu’s most popular beaches are safe for swimmers and surfers, some areas still have high levels of bacteria. Signs will remain posted at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor and Kewalo Basin telling the public to keep out.

“Surfers and boat users are advised that offshore waters may still be impacted, particularly near the harbor entrances,” says Keith Kawaoka of the state Department of Health.

Officials point out that there is still a brown water advisory for the entire state, so those with infections or pre-existing conditions should still avoid going in the ocean until that advisory is lifted.

Tourism officials also said that there have been no major cancellations of major events in Waikiki but the incident did make international news.

The mayor confirms that miscommunication is to blame for not having one of two pumping stations on line when the storm hit on Monday.

“It’s unacceptable,” Caldwell said. “We do not want to see this occur again. Lori (Kahikina) is meeting with her staff. We’ve talked numerous times about this issue. It’s not the first time this happened, but I think people are learning to be more aware.

“I would share the blame with everyone. I think every time we go through one of these, we are better prepared and it was unacceptable what occurred,” he said.

As for why the mayor wasn’t around when the crisis was occurring the past couple of days, Caldwell said he felt it wasn’t necessary, because the spill had been contained.

“When you asked ‘where’s the mayor,’ my director of communications (Jesse Broder Van Dyke) said you’ll have me here and here I am now. Some people think I’m running from controversy. I’ve been mayor now for two years and 8 months, front and center, on rail front and center on homelessness.”

Below is a map of the sites where water samples were taken by the state Dept. of Health:

Map courtesy City and County of Honolulu
Map courtesy City and County of Honolulu (Click for PDF)

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