Countywide : Coastal Bacteria Investigated

Sanitation officials poured red dye down toilets at Bolsa Chica State Beach on Monday to find out if bacteria discovered in coastal waters off the beach is coming from a sewer pipe leak.

Patrick McNelly, spokesman for the County Sanitation Districts, said that recent testing of the waters off the beach showed “slightly elevated levels” of coliform bacteria. However, he said that bacteria samples were not high enough to warrant closing the beach to swimmers and surfers.

But the Sanitation Districts, which tests coastal waters from the mouth of the San Gabriel River to Laguna Beach, wants to find the source of this intermittent bacteria, he said. Waste water from the restrooms goes to Sanitation Districts’ treatment plant in Huntington Beach.

In search of the bacteria’s origin, red dye was dropped down toilets in all 14 restrooms along the 2.5-mile stretch of state beach from Warner Avenue to Seapoint Street.


“If there is a leak, it will take about 24 hours to reach the surf zone,” he said. “If it is coming from this sewer pipe leak, we’ll be able to identify it and take care of it.”

McNelly said dye also will be poured down toilets this morning.

The beach will remain open during the testing, and officials will monitor the beach this week for the dye.

The dye, McNelly said, is harmless to marine life, but it will stain skin and clothing. Flyers will be passed out to warn beach visitors today.

Any swimmer noticing the dye is asked to report it to the Sanitation Districts at (714) 962-2411 Ext. 3301, or notify lifeguards.