Some Orange County beaches reopened after major sewage spill

Crystal Cove Beach Cottages
The sun sets over the Crystal Cove Beach Cottages in Newport Beach in 2016. A spill of about 1.4 million gallons of raw sewage prompted beach closures in Orange County.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Orange County health officials reopened about six miles of beaches Friday after the city of Laguna Beach repaired a leaking pipe that had spilled raw sewage into ocean and bay waters.

The spill, reported Wednesday afternoon, had forced beach closures from Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach to Poche Beach at the Dana Point and San Clemente border. On Friday, the closure was reduced to an area extending from El Moro Creek at Crystal Cove State Beach to the southern point of Dana Strands.

Authorities also revised their estimates of the size of the spill and its location. They originally said roughly 4 million gallons had leaked from a sewage main at the Ben Brown Golf Course in Laguna Beach.

On Friday, Laguna Beach officials said the spill occurred when 1.4 million gallons of raw sewage leaked from a valve on a 24-inch city sewage main near the Aliso and Woods Canyon Wilderness Park.


The remaining areas will remain closed to water-contact sports until follow-up testing shows the water quality meets state health standards.

In a statement, Nichole Quick, an Orange County health officer, emphasized that exposure to untreated sewage “can be harmful and result in very serious illness with potentially severe effects.”

In Los Angeles County, authorities warned against swimming at local beaches because contaminants in runoff from recent rainfall could cause bacteria levels in ocean waters to increase. The county Department of Public Health said bacteria levels could remain elevated for up to three days, depending on the intensity of the rain and the volume of runoff.

Elevated bacteria levels in ocean water may cause illness, officials said, especially in children and the elderly. The advisory for L.A. County beaches will be in effect until at least 7:30 a.m. Monday, but could be extended with more rainfall.

The stories shaping California

Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.