Sewer line fixed; water warnings remain

Crews have completed repair work on an underwater sewer line, the Newport Beach's harbor resources manager confirmed in an email Wednesday.

“We are demobilizing now,” said Chris Miller.

County health warnings remain in place near the Balboa Yacht Club Docks, as well as on Balboa Island’s East Bay Front from Park Avenue to South Bay Front. The warnings, which went into place last week after the initial damage, were removed Sunday and reinstated Tuesday after a second smaller spill; click here to see the latest updates.

The incident not only closed bay water to swimmers, divers and other recreational users but also resulted in Balboa Island’s sewage being manually trucked to a Bayside Drive station via vactor trucks from Newport Beach and other agencies.

In an emailed update on the Lower Bay dredging project, Miller described the incident, which occurred about 11 p.m. Aug. 15 when dredging equipment near the Balboa Yacht Club marina struck an 8-inch main sewer line that provides service from Balboa Island to Bayside Drive.

The dredgers, he emailed, “immediately notified the city, who responded to the scene and addressed the problem that night. Unfortunately, our existing bypass line wasn’t 100% functional, so we decided to shut both lines off, and instead rely on vactor trucks to transport the sewage from the island to Bayside Drive. We did this for about 24 hours until we were able to restore the bypass line and send the vactor trucks home. Special thanks to the City’s Utilities crews along with emergency assistance from Orange County Sanitation District, Irvine Ranch Water District and [the] Costa Mesa [Sanitary District] for their immediate response. This was our first hurdle.”

The second hurdle, he wrote, was to repair the broken main line.

“A team of commercial divers has been on scene since Thursday assisting with this project and identifying the extent of the break in the line,” he wrote. “Because the line is cast iron from 1936, it had a tendency to fracture in either direction of the main broken piece, therefore complicating things a bit. The good news is that we started repairing the pipe on Tuesday night, and as of [Wednesday] afternoon, the repair was deemed complete – a big relief for all.”

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