Millions of gallons of sewage spill into ocean at San Pedro after storm, closing beaches

David González Image
Friday, February 9, 2024
Millions of gallons of sewage spill into ocean at San Pedro
Millions of gallons of sewage spill into ocean at San Pedro

SAN PEDRO, Calif. (KABC) -- The impacts of this week's unprecedented winter storm continue as some beaches in Los Angeles and Orange Counties have been ordered to close.

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health advise residents and visitors to avoid contact with ocean water near Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro,

The department estimates 8 million gallons of sewage entered the Dominguez Channel on Monday. The channel flows into the ocean near Cabrillo Beach.

Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts spokesman Bryan Langpap said, "We got a lot of rainwater that leaked into the sewer system and some spots we ended up without enough capacity, so the sewer was overfull and it overflowed."

Dr. Anissa Davis, the city of Long Beach's health officer, said, "It just increases so much of the amount of inflow, and so it can exceed the capacity of the system to deal with it."

She urges people to stay out of the water.

"You can be in the tens of thousands of gallons and it's still a problem so to be in the millions is just really significant," Davis said.

Posted signs warn beachgoers of the danger.

"There's a lot of infectious diseases concerns about that. You can get gastrointestinal illness, vomiting and diarrhea," Davis said.

It can also lead to skin, eye and ear infections.

In all, Langpap said the sewer system is built to handle a lot of rain but this storm created issues they hadn't seen before.

The districts' largest treatment plant, the Warren Water Resource Facility, on average treats about 250 million gallons per day.

Langpap said on Monday it treated 560 million gallons.

"All that difference is not people using the restroom more," he said. "It's this water that's leaked in the system because the streets flood and then it gets into the sewers."

Beach closures were also reported in Seal Beach due to sewage spills.

Health officials said they will test bacteria levels every day and beach can reopen once they get two consecutive results that meet state requirements.