Little Corona Beach will be closed through the July Fourth holiday weekend after a sewer line ruptured Friday morning, sending thousands of gallons of untreated sewage into the ocean.
The line, operated by the Irvine Ranch Water District, broke about three miles inland at Newport Coast Drive and Ridge Park Road, spilling 200 gallons of sewage per minute, water district spokeswoman Shannon Reed said.
As of 3:30 p.m. today, 18,000 gallons of sewage had flowed into Buck Gully, where a creek took the contaminated water to Little Corona.
Water district officials have not yet determined the cause of the rupture.
The Orange County Health Care Agency has closed the beach through Monday to do two days of water quality testing, agency spokesman Mike Fennessy said. If the tests meet state water quality standards two days in a row, the beach could be reopened by Monday afternoon, Fennessy said.
The rupture occurred at 11 a.m. Friday, Reed said. By early afternoon, emergency crews were able to slow the spill and begin cleanup efforts by using sandbags and tractors to vacuum up the sewage and transport it to an offsite facility.
Crews are working on putting in a second pipe at the rupture site to divert the flow to another main and then will begin repairing the ruptured line, Reed said.
People are advised to stay out of the water until the county health agency clears the beach as safe.
"Anyone in the ocean would be swimming in contaminated water and susceptible to illness," Fennessy said.
For the latest information on the closure, visit ocbeachinfo.com.