24,000 Gallon Spill of Untreated Sewage Shuts Down 3 L.A. Beaches

Health officials downgraded the size of the spill after three beaches were shut down on Wednesday; it’s unclear when they will re-open

You’ll have to stay clear of certain Los Angeles seashores in the immediate future, as a spill of 24,000 gallons of untreated sewage—a figure that was thankfully downgraded from the 64,000 gallons estimated on Wednesday but is still appalling—seeped into three of the city’s beaches, LAMag has learned. 

A blocked main line led to sewage entering the storm drain system near Admiralty and Palawan Ways in Marina del Rey, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a Wednesday news release. County officials said that the blockages have been unclogged and the nearby area cleaned. After news of the massive spill came in, public health officials shut down three local beaches, indefinitely: Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey, Venice City Beach, and Dockweiler State Beach.

Following the spill and beach closures, LAMag received an email from LACDPH saying that the Department of Public Works has now lowered its estimate of the amount of sewage discharged near L.A.’s shore from 64,000 gallons to 24,000 gallons.

Nevertheless, health officials are maintaining that the public must avoid swimming or surfing in ocean water or touching wet sand at the three beaches.

“Water contact may cause someone to become ill,” the department warned.

Officials did not say when the beaches would re-open to the public, and the timeline is to be determined. The water will be tested daily until bacterial levels meet health standards, the department said. LACDPH said in its email to LAMag that results from the first and second sets of ocean water samples will be available on Friday and Saturday.

“If either set of samples shows high bacteria levels, a third set of samples will be collected on Saturday. Sampling will continue until two consecutive samples meet water quality standards,” LACDPH said.

Policy and action group Environment California tweeted about the disaster prior to the announcement of the downgraded sewage spill estimate, writing, “We are disheartened by yesterday’s 64,000-gallon sewage spill that’s affecting beaches in Los Angeles County. Spills like this place both public health and marine life at risk. We must do a better job of stopping these preventable disasters from harming our environment.”

In comparison, a recent sewage spill of between 10,000 to 15,000 gallons in September at Malaga Creek in Palos Verdes Estates shut down neighboring RAT Beach for three weeks, as was noted by Patch L.A. In July 2021, 17 million gallons of sewage poured into the ocean from the Dockweiler and El Segundo beaches after an “equipment breakdown” at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, a wastewater treatment facility, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Those looking for information on beach conditions can call the county closure hotline: 1-800-525-5662.

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