Sewage deluge leads to beach closure

A 12- to 16-inch-high geyser of sewage poured into a Newport Beach storm drain and led to the closing of a piece of the coastline Friday, according to county and city officials.

Residents called Newport Beach officials Friday about 8 a.m. to report that sewage was backing up onto Surrey Drive, a residential street in the Cameo Highlands neighborhood, said George Murdoch, Newport's utilities general manager.

About 1,000 gallons spilled out, but crews were able to collect about 750 gallons before the rest made its way into the storm drain and flowed into the ocean at the nearby Cameo Shores Beach, said Larry Honeybourne of the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Officials closed the beach at about noon Friday and reopened it Sunday after testing of bacteria levels determined it was safe, Honeybourne said.

Murdoch said grit and other viscous material got caught in roots growing into the pipes and caused the clog.

"The roots get in there, and they grow really quickly and they kind of hold back debris that's going down," he said.

Crews cleaned out the obstruction, and starting next week, they'll excavate the pipes that have been invaded by roots and replace them, Murdoch said.

— Jeremiah Dobruck

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck

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