Signs warning beachgoers to stay out of the water were still posted yesterday at Waimanalo Beach following heavy rains last month that led to sewage spills. Some beachgoers continue to venture into the water in spite of the signs.

Sewage spill keeps
beaches closed across
south shores

Some surfers ignore warnings as
repairs drag on at Sand Island

Three surfers heading to Kewalos surf spot yesterday were unfazed by signs warning beachgoers of possible water contamination from Thursday's 2 million-gallon sewage spill on Sand Island.

"We were here on Friday," Raja Koch said as he held his longboard. "The water is clear."

Despite signs posted by the city Department of Environmental Services at many Oahu beaches, some continue to venture into the water.

Thurday's spill was caused by a ruptured pipe at Sand Island Recreation Area, which dumped raw sewage into the ocean. Warning signs remain nearby at Keehi Lagoon, Sand Island State Recreation Area, Kakaako Waterfront Park and Point Panic on Kewalo Basin.

City workers are working to determine what caused the pipe to break.

"We got the line located," Frank Doyle, director of city environmental services, said yesterday. Workers began digging yesterday afternoon and expect to reach the pipe today, he said.

Koch's friend Dunning Holt said he was not worried about the spill because the current was moving away from the surf spot.

"The current is going Ewa-bound," Holt said.

Heavy rains late last month prompted other sewage spills and heavy runoff down streams into the ocean, closing miles of other beaches.

Warning signs remain at Puha Stream; Waimanalo and Bellows beaches; Kawa Stream and Kaneohe Bay; Kaelepulu Stream and Kailua Bay; and Kalihi Stream.

Officials planned to evaluate affected waters today in hopes of reopening some beaches, said Laura Lott, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health.

Some people at Kalama Beach in Kailua yesterday said they failed to notice the warning signs posted all around the beach.

Dozens of people have approached lifeguards to inquire whether it was safe to go into the water.

"We advise people not to go into the water," said Ocean Safety Division Lt. John Moniz. "We can't stop people from going in."

The beach closures upset some residents and tourists.

"It's just unacceptable that this keeps happening," said Waimanalo resident Jody Green as she sat at Waimanalo Beach with two friends. "It's just gotten so bad."

"The reason why people come to Hawaii is to enjoy our waters," she added. "Something is very wrong."

Star-Bulletin reporter Mary Vorsino contributed to this report.


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