Mystery Solved: Murky Water Flooding Kewalo Basin Traced to Water Main Break

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The mysterious white murky plume flooding Kewalo Basin since Wednesday has been traced to a broken 8 inch water main at 961 Kawaihao Street.

That according to Janice Okubo, spokesperson for the state Department of Health and Kurt Tsue, spokesperson for the city Board of Water Supply.


“I was just told that it was determined there is a water main break going into the storm drain.  The breaks appears to be just below the storm drain and the Board of Water Supply is now digging up the main to repair it,” Okubo said in a Friday email to Hawaii Reporter.

Area boaters first noticed the white plume at sunrise on Wednesday, February 29, just before sunrise.

Robert St. Romain of Sashimi Fishing Tours told KHON 2: “It was like 5:30 in the morning and I was standing here and then all of a sudden it came all at one time. Just was coming out here like crazy just like you see it right now and it muddied the whole harbor in a matter of five minutes.”

KHON TV 2‘s Ron Mizutani reported “hundreds of gallons of milky brown fluid continued to pour into the harbor every minute.”

Tsue said the break is quite a ways away from Kewalo Basin, but the water went into a storm drain before flooding the harbor. Because the water break was not visible from the surface, and at least at first there was not enough water being lost to register in the system, the Board of Water Supply did not notice the leak. There is not likely a way to determine how many gallons of water were released and how long the break had been there, Tsue said.

But this morning at 10 a.m., Board of Water Supply crews discovered the exact location of the leak and they reached the 8 inch pipe by noon. Repairs should continue on through the night. Traffic is being contra-flowed, and 8 businesses that lost water service when workers shut off the water system, are being assisted by the Board of Water Supply.

The cloudiness of the water entering Kewalo Basin was likely caused by the fresh water moving underground and kicking up coral and other sediment along the way, Tsue said.