Sewage closes Little Corona

CORONA DEL MAR -- About 3,000 gallons of sewage that included

construction materials such as paint and drywall forced the closure of

Little Corona beach Wednesday.

Orange County Health Care Agency officials said the raw sewage spilled

Monday and flowed into Buck Gully, eventually winding up at the beach.

A blocked line operated by the Irvine Ranch Water District caused the

closure, which was announced at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday.

The beach remained closed Thursday as investigators with both public

agencies worked to determine the spill's cause. The closure will be in

place for at least 72 hours and until bacteria levels return to

appropriate levels, said Health Care Agency spokeswoman Monica Mazur.

A resident in Newport Coast reported the spill after noticing sewage

burbling up through a manhole cover on Ridge Park Road, said water

district spokeswoman Marilyn Smith. District workers used sandbags to

contain the sewage, she said.

There was some evidence that silt, paint, drywall mud and other

construction materials had been dumped into the sewer and had caused the

blockage, Smith said.

Dumping those materials is illegal, officials said. Spills such as

this are often the price paid for developing the bluff tops, said Wayne

Posey, the water district's waste-water director.

"All spills could be preventable," Posey said. "The problem here is we

have development and construction debris."

Health Care Agency officials released data last week that proclaimed

Newport Beach suffered the county's most sewage spills in 2001. Of the 51

spills reported last year, about 35% -- or 18 -- closed the city's

beaches. Blocked lines caused seven of the spills.

* Paul Clinton covers the environment and John Wayne Airport. He may

be reached at (949) 764-4330 or by e-mail ato7

paul.clinton@latimes.comf7 .

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