Waimea beach closes over effluent

State health officials posted warning signs on a beach in Waimea yesterday after diluted water effluent from a basin seeped onto the beach about a mile east of Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor.

“The public is advised to stay out of the area for a few days until the bacteria levels return to normal,” said Watson Okubo, a state Department of Health spokesman on O‘ahu.

A preliminary probe by Gary Ueunten, a DOH staffer on Kaua‘i, revealed the spill probably occurred a few days ago, Okubo said, and originated from the Waimea wastewater treatment plant.

The tailwater, or diluted effluent water, that is used for irrigation, seeped through the wall or floor of at least one of three basins and created a pond on the beach, he said.

“The diluted water seeped through the basin and ended up at the beach,” and then into the ocean, Okubo said yesterday.

The county’s effluent water from the Waimea treatment plant in the region is generally discharged into Kikiaola Land Company’s irrigation system and is used for irrigation.

The company accepts the treated water from the county as a public service, Okubo said.

Any extra diluted water finds it ways to the basins, found in lower parts of the Kikiaola-owned lands, Okubo said.

The DOH responded to a complaint and an investigation is ongoing.

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