The public should avoid ocean waters near the Kailua Wastewater Treatment Plant’s ocean outfall, the state Department of Hawaii said Friday, because the City and County of Honolulu is discharging wastewater that exceeds bacteria limits.
The DOH is warning ocean users at Kailua Bay that the discharged wastewater exceeds the limits for enterococcus bacteria, which is used as an indicator of waterborne pathogens.
“We are asking that these users avoid waters near the City’s ocean outfall until the City has restored full treatment of the wastewater as required by their discharge permit,” Keith Kawaoka, deputy director of environmental health, said in a statement.
On Feb. 18 the city violated its state permit by discharging wastewater that exceeded bacteria limits. It reported the violation on Saturday, the DOH said, which was caused by “operational issues.”
The DOH directed the city to post warning signs and to test samples of the coastal waters in the area. Samples taken on Wednesday did not show increased enterococcus levels, but signs will be posted because of the high recreational use of Kailua Bay.
The signs will remain up until the department is confident that coastal waters have returned to normal.
The city is allowed to discharge up to about 15.3 million gallons a day of wastewater with discharge limitations, according to its state-issued, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. The discharge limitations are in place “to protect human and environmental health and minimize risk to the public,” the DOH said.