1,000-gallon sewage spill shuts part of Newport Beach bay

A sign on a beach says "Keep Out. Sewage Contaminated Water ...."
Orange County health officials have closed a half-mile section of the Newport Beach coast to ocean sports because of a sewage spill.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

A section of Newport Beach waters is closed after nearly 1,000 gallons of sewage spilled Monday, the Orange County Health Care Agency said.

An “operator error” caused the spill during routine maintenance of a sewer main line, the agency said in a news release.

The closure, which is less than a mile long, affects a stretch of bay waters between Bayside Drive Beach and China Cove.


Newport Beach spokesman John Pope said the incident was caused by work crews with the Orange County Sanitation District.

Christine Lane, the director of environmental health at the Orange County Health Care Agency, said the backup occurred just after 1 p.m. at Bayside Drive and Carnation Avenue. Officials think a piece of equipment was stuck during a routine line cleaning and caused backup and overflow.

The Orange County Sanitation District is the leading agency on the spill, but Pope said Newport Beach and other agencies were cooperating to contain and clean up the spill.

The city is also assisting the county health agency with additional sampling to ensure the bay is safe for reopening. The area will remain closed for ocean contact sports until water quality tests show acceptable levels.

Ocean waters in Orange County were already under a rain advisory following the light showers that soaked the region Monday. The rains cause runoff from storm drains, creeks and rivers to seep into the ocean, leading to a sometimes dangerous rise in the ocean’s bacteria level.


The Orange County Health Care Agency advises swimmers and surfers to stay out of the water for three days after rainstorms.