Investigation launched after Waikiki hotel diverts storm water into ocean

A Waikiki hotel is under investigation by the Hawaii Department of Health.

Investigators say the Moana Surfrider was illegally pumping bacteria-filled water into the ocean.

KHON2 first heard about this from a viewer who sent us a tip through the Report It feature on our website.

We brought it to the attention of the health department, which says it received the same information and started investigating.

Pictures sent in by a viewer show a makeshift fence surrounding a manhole at the outdoor bar of the Moana Surfrider. Two blue hoses extend from that manhole, then under a concrete bench and up onto the sand leading into the water.

The Department of Health says the blue hoses are connected to a storm water seepage pit, which would empty out onto the beach and into the ocean.

According to DOH, hotel personnel acknowledged the pumping out of their storm water seepage pit, and agreed to stop it immediately.

Stuart Yamada with the department’s Environmental Management Division says dumping anything into the ocean is illegal.

“You just can’t discharge anything, even if it’s not sewage, but still no one is allowed just to pump out anything and discharge into the ocean like that,” he said.

KHON2 reached out to the Moana Surfrider Thursday night. General manager Lawrence Hanson sent us a statement:

“We take great pride in caring for Waikiki Beach and the ocean. We’ve always been aware of the cultural significance of the land the Moana Surfrider sits on, and the Apuakehau Stream that flows through the area. The significant rains from this past weekend caused an overflow of rainwater. Based on this, we will work with the appropriate authorities and cultural advisers to do what is pono.”

KHON2 asked Yamada if the Department of Health had seen anything like this before in Waikiki.

“No, so it does make one wonder, but I have to believe this is the oldest facility along the beachfront, so it was indicated by the inspectors that this was in there for quite some time, so this is not a recent thing,” Yamada said.

On Thursday, the hoses had been removed and the manhole cover was in place.

Health officials say they’ll work with the hotel to make sure the storm water doesn’t end up in the ocean again.

The department says it’s not clear how long this practice has been in place at the hotel, and KHON2 has yet to find out if a citation will be issued.

The water at the beach was tested again on Thursday. Officials say bacteria levels are down and the water is safe.

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