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Coastal waters fully reopen five days after major sewage spill

A surfer navigates a big wave generated from an outer reef over the weekend in Laguna Beach.
A surfer navigates a wave last summer in Laguna Beach. Orange County last week closed more than 16 miles of ocean water areas to swimming and water sports between Crystal Cove State Park and the Dana Point-San Clemente border because of a large sewage spill.
(File Photo)

A five-day closure has been lifted for all of the Orange County coastal waters closed last week by a 1.4-million-gallon sewage spill in Laguna Beach.

The county Health Care Agency removed its closure signs between El Moro Creek at Crystal Cove State Park and the southernmost point of Dana Strand in Dana Point early Monday afternoon after two consecutive days of water sampling showed that bacteria levels met acceptable health standards, an agency spokeswoman said.

The leak, which occurred Wednesday, was caused by a broken valve on a 24-inch city sewage pipe in Laguna Beach near Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, officials said.

A valve assembly on the main pipeline failed about a quarter-mile from the Coastal Treatment Plant in Aliso Canyon, apparently because of long-term corrosion, Laguna Beach said in a post on the city website.

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The amount of the spill was initially estimated at 4 million gallons but was later revised downward as more information became available, according to the city.

The county closed more than 16 miles of ocean and bay water areas to swimming and water sports between Pelican Point at Crystal Cove State Park (at the base of Newport Coast Drive) and Poche Beach at the Dana Point-San Clemente border. About six miles were reopened Friday afternoon, including around Newport Beach, Doheny State Beach, Capistrano Beach, Dana Point Harbor and Poche Beach.

In an unrelated matter, the Health Care Agency has placed all Orange County beaches under a lower-level rain advisory because of runoff that accompanied last week’s storms.

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