A discharge of partially treated wastewater into the waters of Puhi Bay, Hawaii, in September led to a ban on all activities in the bay, including swimming, fishing and boating.
As a result of a power failure, about 72,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater spilled from the Hilo Wastewater Treatment Plant on Sept. 26. According to a written statement from the state's Wastewater Division, the problem occurred because of a bypass of the secondary treatment process at the plant between 7:42 p.m. to 8:25 p.m. The Wastewater Division immediately started troubleshooting the electrical system to resolve the problem.
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Reports said that partially treated wastewater can be released through the outfall pipe in case of emergency but normally it is used to discharge fully treated and disinfected water. The pipe runs about three-quarters of a mile offshore from the former Puhi Bay sewage treatment plant.
Several hours after the spill, warning signs were posted around the discharge site. The Keaukaha shoreline was closed for all activity as a precaution but officials from the Wastewater Division said that they would be monitoring the shoreline on a daily basis to determine when it will be safe to lift the ban. Samples from water in the area will be tested to make sure it is completely safe. Tests will also determine if increased bacteria levels are detected in the bay.