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Wastewater overflows at park

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    Wastewater ponded around a sewer manhole cover near the restrooms at Waimea Bay Beach Park. When the water dried up, toilet paper remnants clung to the lid.

Fireworks weren’t going off on the Fourth of July at Wai­mea Bay.

The toilets were.

Gray wastewater ponded around the sewer manhole cover near the restrooms at Wai­mea Bay Beach Park. When the water receded Sunday, dried toilet paper remnants clung to the lid.

"Here we have the most famous bay in Hawaii, as far as visitors are concerned, and we have this," said Jack Reid, a member of the North Shore Neighborhood Board’s Parks Committee.

"This has been going on for quite some time," Reid said. "If it’s a busy weekend, pump it Saturday night, whatever it takes."

Anytime large events are held there, like the one held the previous weekend with "tons of people there," it causes an overflow, he said.

The neighborhood board’s complaints were heard, and the city Department of Parks and Recreation took Reid’s suggestion.

Parks spokesman Jon Hennington said: "It was a very busy weekend, and the holding tank exceeded its capacity.

"To prevent that from happening in the future this summer, we are going to increase the number of times we pump from four days to five," adding Saturday to the usual Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday schedule, he said.

The Parks Department will also require an increased number of portable toilets for permit holders for large events.

"We’re hoping the changes put in place will resolve the issue," he said.

Not all parks are on a septic tank system; those that can be are connected to the city’s sewage system, he said.

"This particular situation is particular to this park," Hennington said.

The modern aerated septic tank system has an increased capacity, is more efficient and better for the environment, he said.

The city will look at requirements for all parks to see whether the city is meeting the parks’ needs, Hennington said.

The neighborhood board also has health concerns.

"If these kids go out in the ocean, if they cut their foot on a piece of coral, then they walk through that poop and water, they’re going to get a staph infection," he said. "Then they’re going to get sick."

A Department of Health Wastewater Branch inspector found dried toilet paper around the manhole cover Monday but no evidence of a current overflow, DOH spokes­woman Janice Okubo said.

"As we understand, the city and county is investigating the possible causes of a system overflow, which may include increased usage over time, a blockage or inadequate system design, etc.," she said.

"DOH will be following up with the city on their investigation and ways to resolve the issue and prevent future overflows," she said.

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