Monday, August 24, 2015. On the day we should have been celebrating the 125th birthday of Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaii's surf ambassador to the world, a massive sewage spill forced the closure of Waikiki Beach and its famed surfbreaks. Heavy rains from Tropical Depression Kilo overwhelmed sewer systems on Oahu, causing several small spills and a massive, 500,000 gallon sewage spill along Ala Moana Boulevard, resulting in raw sewage flowing into the ocean.
Although heavy rains overnight Sunday into Monday started the flooding and breakdown of the sewer systemes, signs were not posted on the beach until noon on Monday, leaving many early swimmers and surfers exposed to contaminated conditions in the morning hours. Even that afternoon, much of the visiting beach-going public were not aware of the danger in the water. View local coverage by KHON TV.
Since then, word of mouth and media attention has started to spread down the beach raising public awareness. The Department of Parks and Recreation has closed Ala Moana Regional Park and has warned everyone to stay out of the water from Point Panic at Kakaako Waterfront Park to Kapahulu Groin in Waikiki. Honolulu City and County are taking heat for their lack of preparation for the heavy rain conditions that were expected. Honolulu's sewage and stormwater systems are old and aging, and do get overwhelmed with rains less severe than those brought by Kilo.
This public health crisis higlights the importance of the work being done by the Surfrider Chapters in Hawaii to improve public notification of polluted waters at the beach throughout the state and to get their city and county governments to get serious about addressing stormwater so that we can keep pollution from reaching the ocean in the first place.
We urge anyone who has gotten sick from exposure to polluted recreational waters in Waikiki or anywhere else impaired by sewage and stormwater to make a record of their illness on Surfrider's online ocean illness report so that we can use this info to show the urgency across Hawaii to protect public health at the beach. Click here to make your report: sickatthebeach.crowdmap.com
Contact Mara Dias firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions on how to enter your report.
More local media coverage of the spills: