HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii County officials said more than two million gallons of partially-treated wastewater was released into waters near Puhi Bay in Hilo.
KHON2 checked in with Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth and the Department of Environmental Management to see how officials responded.
Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8
The Hawaii County Wastewater Division said about 2.2 million gallons went into the ocean near the Hilo Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The bypass lasted from 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 22 to 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Mayor Mitch Roth said the water that was released was not pure sewage.
“It has actually gone through a couple of the very many processes that wastewater treatment goes through,” Roth said. “We’re hopeful it had gone through enough of the procedures that there is not too much damage out there in the environment, if any.”
Roth said the Department of Health was notified and tested the area on Friday, Nov. 25.
“I have kids, and I know a lot of people I’d be concerned about swimming in water that may be polluted,” Roth said.
According to the Wastewater Division, the release was caused by “broken air feeds that service the solids contact tanks.”
The director for Hawaii County’s Environmental Management Department said two of the three pipes still functioned and individual alarms do not currently exist.
“So, under the new design as we work on phase two, this system’s gonna be having the bells and whistles individually to allow for any failure within the piping system itself as well,” said director Ramzi Mansour.
Mansour said tests showed what was released was well under the cutoff level for solid material and enterococci bacteria in wastewater. Results on other tests need to be delivered within five days.
“So by Sunday, we’ll have, you know, a great idea of where we’re gonna be,” Ramzi said. “So we kind of feel good, but we have to go through the reporting process and that’s what we did.”
Stolen jewels, boa constrictors killing owners, check out Weird News here
“At this stage we are still testing to make sure, so as a precaution we want people to be aware of it, the waters could be a little bit polluted at this time,” Roth said.