RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
The fence line along the stream has started to collapse behind 51-029 Huamalani Road in Kaaawa. Down the road, another section of the swollen stream has recently eaten away its banks.
Rain overwhelming aging sewer systems
Diverted and overflowing sewage continues to plague Oahu and Kauai, with no letup in sight
Heavy showers over Oahu and Kauai triggered six sewage spills yesterday and forced crews to continue diverting raw sewage into the Ala Wai Canal after a main break Friday, bringing the total amount of waste siphoned into the waterway to more than 1 million gallons.
Sewage spills on Oahu
There were five sewage spills in Windward Oahu yesterday. At the same time, more than a million gallons of raw sewage has been diverted into the Ala Wai Canal since a main broke on Friday, city officials said.
The spills were:
» Near 400 Wanaao Road, when a manhole overflowed at about 9:15 a.m., spilling about 6,000 gallons of untreated sewage.
» Again at Wanaao Road, when the manhole overflowed again from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., spilling about 2,700 gallons.
» At the intersection of Hele Street and Keolu Drive, when a manhole overflowed between 9 and 11 a.m. About 2,400 gallons of untreated waste water was spilled.
» At the Waimanalo Wastewater Treatment Plant, where 1,000 gallons of treated and untreated waste water spilled.
Source: City Department of Environmental Services
Surfers have been warned to stay out of water near the mouth of the canal, which drains into Ala Moana Bowls. The state Department of Health said nearby surfing spots Rock Pile and In Betweens are also affected.
Also yesterday, a third straight day of rain on Kauai and Oahu spurred flooding and closed roads. Firefighters helped pump water out of at least four flooded homes and a Pensacola Street apartment's underground parking garage, which was under about a foot of water at 3 p.m.
In Kailua a 3-by-5-foot boulder rolled down a hillside and onto Hamakua Drive at about 10 a.m. Road crews removed the boulder within an hour, and no injuries were reported.
Meanwhile, Maunalaha Valley residents continued to watch their neighborhood closely after a spate of landslides last week. There were no mudslides reported yesterday, but residents said it was only a matter of time, with more showers expected today.
"We're still waiting," said resident Leinaala Lopes.
Two roads on Oahu were flooded and briefly closed yesterday: Kili Drive in Makaha and Waialua Beach Road. Flooding also closed Waimea Canyon Road on Kauai and made driving conditions dangerous on both islands.
Police attributed several minor accidents yesterday to the rain. On the H-3 freeway, a pickup truck overturned in the Kaneohe-bound lanes of Harano Tunnel at about 12:45 p.m. The accident was cleared within two hours, and the driver was not seriously injured.
The rains also caused a sewage spill at Lydgate Park on Kauai. Officials said a power failure at about 6 a.m. caused an intake basin at the Wailua Treatment Facility to overflow, releasing as much as 10,000 gallons of untreated sewage into the park.
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
A sewer line broke yesterday on Kaiolu Street in Waikiki, closing the street to traffic. Signs warning of contamination were put up near Ala Wai Yacht Harbor.
The Oahu sewage spills yesterday were on the Windward side, and four happened when manholes overflowed. They bring the total number of sewage spills on Oahu to 17 since late February, when a series of heavy rains started drenching the islands and putting stress on sewer systems.
In all the spills have dumped more than 200,000 gallons of sewage into waters off the islands, affecting at least 20 beaches.
Environmentalists say the spills -- combined with the ongoing diversion of the Ala Wai main -- bring increased urgency to calls for a comprehensive revamping of the island's sewer system.
"It's a huge problem," said Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Sierra Club, which has a lawsuit pending against the city over the sewers. "This is not a 21st-century waste-water system. We should expect much more."
The city says it is doing all it can, and points out that the 42-inch main that broke on Kaiolu Street in Waikiki was set to be replaced next year.
The main was installed in 1964, and handles most of the sewage generated in Manoa, Moiliili and Waikiki. "This is one of the most challenging main breaks our department has faced in many years," said Eric Takamura, city Environmental Services Department director.
A diver was able to pinpoint the break on Saturday, and repairs were expected to be complete late last night.
At the Ala Moana Bowls surf spot yesterday, most residents stayed out of the water, but three Japanese tourists ventured in for some snorkeling. They could not speak English or read the posted warning signs.
"I was going, but not now," said Eric Gill, who takes his one-man canoe out every Sunday. "None of us really want to go out. This is what happens when the city doesn't pay any attention to keeping up with things."
Forecasters say the heavy rains will stick around today and return again Wednesday. Officials are asking residents to stay off trails and out of the ocean. State Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairman Peter Young said in a news conference yesterday that murky water can attract sharks.
"We want everyone to be safe at home," he said.