Two miles of Laguna shoreline closed after 95,000 gallons of sewage flowed into ocean – Updated

renew: As of 11:30 a.m. on December 1, the OC Healthcare Environmental Health Department has reopened the coastal area from Laguna Avenue to Thalia and Pearl to Blue Lagoon. Flights from Thalia to Pearl remain closed until further notice.

The Nov. 29 sewage spill prompted the OC Health Care Agency (HCA) Environmental Health Department to close two miles of Laguna shoreline until further notice.

As of Nov. 29, the county has closed the following beaches: Cleo Street Beach, Bluebird Canyon, Pearl Street Beach, Victoria Beach and Blue Lagoon Beach.Map provided by OC Health Care Agency Environmental Health Department

A major sewer line at Bluebird Canyon and Pacific Coast Highway ruptured during repairs, reportedly causing a sewage leak estimated at nearly 95,000 gallons, according to the county.

The workhorse is the pipe that carries pressurized wastewater from the discharge side of a pump or pneumatic ejector to the treatment plant. that is, the city’s main sewer pipes.

HCA said ocean water contact sports are prohibited in the affected areas until two consecutive days of water quality monitoring results meet AB 411 ocean water contact sports standards.

Effective November 29, HCA is closing the following beaches: Cleo Street Beach, Bluebird Canyon, Pearl Street Beach, Victoria Beach and Blue Lagoon Beach.

The release of untreated sewage into the ocean can expose swimmers to disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and protozoa such as E. coli and salmonella. These microorganisms can cause diarrhea, gastroenteritis, respiratory tract infections, and other infections, and may be present at or near sites where contaminated discharges enter water.

The spill could also affect local marine life.

“Sewage spills can increase nutrient levels in ocean sediments, change water chemistry, and reduce water clarity and oxygen availability,” said OC Health Care Agency spokesperson Ellen Guevara. Leading to algae blooms and bioaccumulation of pollutants in marine life.”

Levels of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa from sewage spills will decrease over time due to sunlight and saltwater exposure, age, predation by other organisms, and dilution.

Roger Bütow, a 50-year-old Laguna Beach resident and 23-year-old founder of the NGO Clean Water Now, believes the incident could have been avoided if the city had invested more in environmental management.

“Laguna is so unique. How many other coastal gems like this often suffer from these problems?” Buto said. “The city is a cheapskate, cutting corners, looking for other places to spend our annual surplus of millions but doing almost nothing to upgrade and modernize. If tourists see our poor environmental management record and stay away, then a What’s the point of having a pile of multi-million dollar parking lots? “This is not supposed to be Laguna Beach: the site of a massive sewage spill. “

The county’s 2021-2022 Ocean, Harbor and Bay Water Quality Report noted that a total of 85 sewage spills along the Orange County coastline were reported to water quality panels last year, “well below the 35-year average of 184 per year.”

Of the 85 sewage spills reported in 2022, three resulted in seawater closures.

According to the county, an average of 72 percent of beach closures since 1999 have been caused by clogged pipes caused by root penetration, grease buildup and other unknown causes.

“We mix stormwater by diverting storm drains into our wastewater system six months out of the year, so a lot of gravel and soil, coarse debris, etc., ends up in our sewer system,” Bütow explains road. “This can severely affect pumps and other infrastructure, causing them to internally degrade faster than their normal lifespan. The same goes for all the corrosives in household chemicals. Sewage produces hydrogen sulfide gas. That putrid smell is a sign. If trapped Live, it is highly flammable and toxic.”

For information about Orange County ocean, bay or harbor advisories and closures, call (714) 433-6400 or visit To report a sewage leak, call (714) 433-6419.

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