Warning signs are posted at Kewalo Basin Small Boat Harbor and the public is advised to stay clear as the area may have been affected by a sewage release that occurred over the Fourth of July weekend.
Raw sewage was still bubbling out and into the parking lot Wednesday morning.
There’s a storm drain there that leads right into the ocean where catamarans and cruise boats are docked that take tourists out daily. The parking lot is also where tourists park and walk through to get to the dock.
“All of our guests are parking in this parking lot. It’s minimizing the parking that’s available for our customers. The smell is not pleasant especially for anyone that has to wait,” said Cristina Smoot, Island Magic Catamaran.
“Toilet paper, raw sewage all over the parking lot. It’s really bad,” said Syrus Williamson, Honolulu Scuba Company. “I watch Channel 2 and you guys fix stuff, so I said I’m calling Channel 2. They take care of stuff so I figure you guys will get on it and get something done about it.”
Harbor users are advised to avoid contact with waters in areas near the sign postings. The warning signs will remain up until water quality has returned to normal.
The Department of Health’s (DOH) Clean Water Branch learned the sewage overflows began on Sunday, July 3, and occurred intermittently from manhole covers located near the Kewalo Basin comfort station nearest to Ala Moana Boulevard.
The entire area is under the jurisdiction of the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) and the state health department says it wasn’t notified until late Tuesday.
“This is a threat to public health. This is unacceptable,” said Marti Townsend with the Sierra Club. “As soon as you have this kind of occurrence, which you should never have, but as soon as you do, there needs to be immediate action taken to protect the public health.
“We went through a holiday weekend with the sewage leak into nearshore waters where people are surfing, scuba diving, and boating and there’s no notice to the public about potential risk,” Townsend added. “Everyone who was down at Kewalo Basin over the holiday weekend needs to be concerned.”
According to information gathered by DOH, HCDA mitigated the problem by closing the nearest comfort station. HCDA has contacted plumbers and repairs will begin as soon as possible. Additional comfort stations in the Kewalo Basin Small Boat Harbor will be closed until repairs are complete.
Clean Water Branch inspectors conducted an investigation at Kewalo Small Boat Harbor, the site of a reported sewage spill, and will begin water quality monitoring for three days beginning July 7.
Although an investigation is still underway, the ongoing sewage spill is suspected to be due to a blockage in the sewer lateral connecting the Kewalo Basin comfort stations to the main line on Ala Moana Blvd.
The total volume of the sewage spill is unknown as the overflows were intermittent.
KHON2 first contacted HCDA Sunday night upon hearing reports of the spill. No one called us back. We also checked with the state and city and were told the harbor master was aware of the spill.
We went down to HCDA’s offices Wednesday after hearing the problem persisted. HCDA said no one was available to talk to us but issued the following statement:
“The HCDA is working in coordination with the Harbormaster in order to contain the spill and clean the affected areas. All restroom facilities in Kewalo Basin harbor are now closed to prevent further wastewater overflow. We are investigating what caused the situation and will begin repairs as soon as possible. We urge the public to comply with posted warning signs and to stay out of affected areas until the problem can be resolved.”
The health department says it also wants answers from HCDA as to why the spill wasn’t reported until Tuesday. It is a violation and the maximum penalty is $25,000 per day.