Ocean and bay areas remain closed from Newport Beach to Dana Point following 4-million-gallon sewage spill

Keep Out beach sign
The spill was first reported at 4:40 p.m. Wednesday and was due to a broken main in Laguna Beach, officials said Friday.
(Orange County Health Care Agency)

Ocean and bay areas from Pelican Point at Crystal Cove in Newport Beach to the Poche Beach interface in Dana Point and San Clemente could remain off-limits for water sports through the weekend as the Orange County Health Care Agency continues to monitor the effects of a raw sewage spill.

The spill of about 4 million gallons was due to a broken main in Laguna Beach and was first reported at 4:40 p.m. Wednesday by the South Orange County Wastewater Authority and the city of Laguna Beach.

According to a Laguna Beach press release, the leak came from a broken city wastewater pipe near the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park.

“Specialized equipment and crews required to bypass and repair the line are on scene and will be working throughout the day Friday and possibly into the evening to affect repairs,” the release stated.


According to the city, “All beaches from Poche Beach in San Clemente to Pelican Point at Crystal Cove will remain temporarily closed for water contact for at least the next two days.”

Orange County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick said the affected ocean and bay water areas will be closed to water sports until follow-up water quality monitoring determines they meet acceptable standards.

“I want to stress the importance of avoiding contact with ocean water in the affected areas due to the danger of exposure to untreated sewage, which can be harmful and result in very serious illness with potentially severe effects,” Quick said.

Laguna Beach residents living north of Nyes Place also were asked to voluntarily reduce their water use Friday to lessen impacts on the wastewater system.


“While repairs are made, residents north of Nyes Place are being asked to avoid any unnecessary uses of water, including washing clothes, running the dishwasher and taking baths or long showers,” the city release stated. “This event does not impact drinking water.”

Any residents or visitors who smell the odor of sewage in the affected areas can file a complaint through the South Coast Air Quality Management District at (800) 288-7664.

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12:39 PM, Nov. 29, 2019: This article was originally published at 11:59 a.m. and has been updated with additional information.