The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a number of Southern California beaches were hit with raw sewage due to overloaded systems from the rain and storms that hit last week.
As dirty storm runoff rushed seaward during the rains, it overwhelmed some of the region’s sewage systems, rupturing sewer mains, disabling pump stations and surging above manhole covers in a series of spills that swept hundreds of thousands of gallons of waste into the ocean.
Five days after the heaviest rainfall, several beaches, including three in southern Orange County and two in San Diego County, remained closed to protect the public from sewage, pathogens and other pollutants that continue to swirl in the water even after the storm clouds have dissipated.
As we all know, and the LA Times reported:
San Diego’s Ocean Beach was still closed five days after an estimated 750,000-gallon spill. That incident occurred after Sycamore Creek in the suburb of Santee overflowed, flooding a wastewater pump station, forcing sewage out of manhole covers at a golf course, and sending it flowing into the San Diego River.
Yet, except for the sewage spill at Camp Pendelton with 1.1 million gallons, more gallons of sewage came to the waters off Ocean beach than the other beaches that were closed. Laguna Beach had 60,000 gallons, San Juan Capistrano had 50,000 gallons of partially treated sewage. Officials closed a 12 miles of coast from Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach to Poche Beach in San Clemente. A 4.3-mile area including Laguna Beach, Aliso Beach and Doheny State Beach also remained closed to swimmers and surfers.
In most of these cases, the rain caused the volume of material coming through the sewage pipes to at least double, which overwhelmed the system insfrastructures.
The Camp Pendleton spill,
sent more than 1.1 million gallons of partially treated sewage into San Mateo Creek and closed beaches near the creek’s outlet at San Onofre State Beach. The spill, which is believed to have occurred Dec. 21, wasn’t discovered until three days later. The beach remained closed Monday.
Water quality advocates, however, say wastewater agencies should have been prepared to accommodate the stress of a major downpour. “In our eyes, too much rain is not an excuse,” said Brown, of Orange County Coastkeeper, who added that he plans to seek records from wastewater agencies to find out what exactly went wrong. If it turns out that the spills could have been prevented through improvements to aging pipes, pumps and other infrastructure, the group could file complaints with water quality regulators, he said.
Go here for the full LA Times article.