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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 4:16 p.m., Saturday, March 25, 2006

Big sewage spill into Ala Wai Canal

Advertiser Staff

The City Environmental Services Department is continuing today to work on the sewer main rupture on Kaiolu Street that has spilled an estimated 375,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into the Ala Wai Canal.

The work has been slowed by heavy rains and the difficulty in reaching the broken main.

The break was discovered Friday morning about mid-block on Kaiolu Street. The rupture is in a 42-inch force main that serves the Beachwalk Wastewater Pumping Station.

Some of the untreated wastewater spilled into the storm drainage system that leads to the Ala Wai Canal. Since then, crews have been working to get to the ruptured main. That has not yet been accomplished. Heavy rains that soaked Waikiki Friday night entered the wastewater system and threatened to overwhelm it. To avoid a larger problem, some wastewater was diverted directly into the Ala Wai Canal overnight, and additional bypasses may be needed. The state Department of Health has been notified.

Tests indicate the current at the mouth of the canal is headed away from shore. Water samples are are being taken by the department's Environmental Quality Division.

Warning signs were posted along the canal and various points downstream yesterday. More were put up today. In addition, Department of Environmental Services personnel have contacted canal users and are patrolling the Ala Wai banks to warn people away from the water. They also have cautioned surfers at Ala Moana Bowls, the surf spot near the mouth of the canal. The state Department of Health is being updated about the spill.

People should avoid contact with the waters of the Ala Wai Canal. Anyone exposed to the waters should wash thoroughly with soap and water. Objects that are exposed to the canal waters should be disinfected.

The left lane of Ala Wai Boulevard at Kaiolu continues to be closed to traffic to allow for repairs and capture of the spilled wastewater. Kaiolu Street remains closed to through traffic.