“The indication is that the levels have come down dramatically from yesterday to indicate that we can open at least those beach areas,” Kawaoka told reporters.
What caused the sewer spill in the first place? Blame it on Tropical Storm Kilo. Heavy rain associated with the storm aused manhole covers in Honolulu to overflow with sewage and the Honolulu Zoo to flood Monday.
This prompted officials to close a four-mile stretch of waterfront, including the ocean fronting some of Hawaii’s biggest hotels and the center of the state’s tourism-driven economy.
For many visitors, the storm and sewage spill hampered plans to swim in the ocean off the miles-long stretch of beach between Waikiki Beach and Ala Moana Beach.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said being able to reopen the area was a priority.
“We recognize—both at the state and county level—in terms of our economy there’s nothing more important than Waikiki,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that this event was over and it’s over in basically two days and a little bit more.”
Kawaoka said warning signs will remain at the Ala Wai and Kewalo boat harbors because water quality tests there indicated they were still affected by the spill. He said people should avoid coming into contact with the water in those areas.
Lori Kahikina, Honolulu’s director of environmental services, said less sewage spilled than the half-million gallons the city initially reported. She said Wednesday 129,000 gallons of wastewater flowed into the ocean. Another 264,000 spilled on land but never reached the ocean.
So, grab your suits and enjoy the Waikiki water—you’ll find the wait was worth it!