Sewage spill at Keehi puts canoe clubs in limbo

City unsure what is causing contaminated water

 UPDATED 11:05 PM HST May 15, 2013
Canoe club
HONOLULU -

Many canoe clubs are frustrated with a months-long sewage spill at Keehi Lagoon. They said if it persists much longer, the upcoming regatta season may be a big mess.

Dexter Bajarin has been coaching for Alapa Hoe for years.

In that time, he says he's sludged through many sewage spills, but nothing like this one.

In February, the city said that at least 3,000 gallons of waste water had spilled into his club's practice area, prompting warning signs ever since.

"Yeah, we're still practicing in Keehi Lagoon, but we try and make sure that the kids no more open sores, no more mosquito bites," Bajarin said.

He said he always has antibacterial soap on hand and advises his students to shower immediately.

Originally, the city said a cracked pipe was the source of the spill, but says recent inspections of the line show no leaks. Still, the city says it will replace the 42-inch pipe as a precaution, a project that could take another month or two.

Until then, it's not allowing any races in Keehi Lagoon.

"We really want to know what's going on cause we don't know where all the races are going to be," said Ashley Endo, of the Pukana O Ke Kai canoe club. "First it's here, then we hear it's someplace else."

Bajarin said, "Being a coach is frustrating cause the kids always come up to you and then ask you, 'Is the races going to be here? Are we practicing?'"

And his frustrations may not be over when repairs are complete.

The city said if water samples are still unsatisfactory after the pipe is replaced, warning signs will remain posted.

"If they cannot fix the problem and they not going to give us permits for this place, we don't know where the championship going be so, everything is up in the air," Bajarin said.

Many of the canoe clubs are still practicing at Keehi Lagoon because they say they don't know where else to go and getting members to another site on a regular basis would be even more frustrating.

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