Waikiki beaches close
High bacteria counts after several sewage spills on Friday prompt the action
A day after sunshine brought thousands of swimmers to Waikiki beaches, officials decided last night to close a stretch of shoreline from the Hale Koa Hotel to the Sheraton Moana Surfrider because of high bacteria counts in the water following several sewage spills.
The closure comes as swimmers are already being told to stay out of Duke Kahanamoku and Fort DeRussy beaches along with the Magic Island Lagoon and surfing spot Ala Moana Bowls.
The state Health Department ordered the city to close the beaches based on bacteria counts taken Saturday morning, and crews posted warning signs last night, officials said.
State Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert has also talked to several hotels, which were to notify guests of the closures.
State officials said they were especially concerned about levels of clostridium perfringens, a bacterium found in sewage that can cause chills, abdominal cramping and diarrhea if ingested.
It is most commonly associated with food poisoning.
"Certainly, there's always the possibility of people becoming ill if they're swimming in contaminated water," said state Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo.
Samples of the water were taken yesterday, and city officials were hoping a day with no sewage spills in Waikiki helped to lower bacteria counts.
It takes 24 hours for city officials to get the results on the samples back from a state laboratory, city spokesman Mark Matsunaga said. He also said the samples on Saturday were taken in the morning, before sunshine had a chance to kill any bacteria.
"It (is) possible that the results (today) will show a decrease," he said.
On Friday night about 1.8 million gallons of sewage spilled from the Ala Moana Pump Station* in Kakaako when a power failure shut down the station, the city said. An additional 6,900 gallons of sewage overflowed from manholes at Ala Moana and Atkinson boulevards.
The spills followed a massive discharge of sewage into the canal following a 42-inch main break. Some 40 million gallons of waste water went into the waterway and then out to sea.
The city continues daily to collect water samples at four spots along the Ala Wai Canal and 12 shoreline spots, from Makalei Beach near Diamond Head to Kewalo Basin.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
» About 1.8 million gallons of sewage spilled from the Ala Moana Pump Station in Kakaako and did not go into the Ala Wai Canal. A Page A1 story on April 3 incorrectly said that the sewage spilled into the canal.