Long Beach closes beaches ahead of a warm weekend after L.A. River sewage spill

A sign warns beachgoers to stay out of the water because of sewage contamination
A sewage spill in the Dominguez Channel closed Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach in January 2022. A new spill in the L.A. River has prompted officials to close beaches again until coastal waters can be tested and deemed safe.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The city of Long Beach has temporarily closed its beaches heading into a warm weekend after a sewage spill dumped 250,000 gallons of waste into the Los Angeles River, officials said.

An equipment malfunction caused a blockage in the sewage treatment system about 9:40 a.m. Thursday as Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts maintenance crews were working in Downey, according to the sanitation department.

The wastewater overflowed into the street, covering Burns and Rives avenues and prompting the department to close off the area for cleaning, officials said.


The blockage was cleared after more than an hour and a half, but not before massive amounts of waste had spilled into the river, which flows into the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach, officials said.

While it is not clear how the spill will affect the water off Long Beach, state law requires the city to close beaches for public use until the water quality has been tested and deemed safe, according to the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services.

“Water from the Los Angeles River connects to the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach, which means pollution anywhere upriver can affect the coastal waters of the City. Long Beach has approximately seven miles of public beach,” the city said in a press release. “The City of Long Beach Health Department’s Recreational Water Quality health inspection team is monitoring water quality along the affected beach sites. Water monitoring will continue until results comply with State water quality standards.”

The closure of the beaches comes as Southern California is set to experience the warmest weekend of the year, with temperatures at beaches heading up to 80 degrees on Friday and remaining in the 60s and 70s on Saturday and Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

Sewage spills are nothing new to the area.

In 2022, local beaches were closed due to a 30,000- to 40,000-gallon sewage spill that flowed into the Los Angeles River.

A much bigger spill at the end of 2021 sent 6 million to 7 million gallons of waste into the river, closing beaches in Los Angeles and Orange counties for days.