UPDATE: Long Beach Waters Reopen Following This Week’s Sewage Spill; City Tracking Costs

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Photos by Stephanie Rivera. 

UPDATE | All coastal beaches in Long Beach were declared safe to swim in by city health officials Friday afternoon following a massive sewage spill that began in Los Angeles on Monday.

Interim City Health Officer Dr. Mauro Torno gave the greenlight to reopen the beaches after two consecutive test results from the city’s public health lab showed that bacteria levels were within state standards, a city press release announced.

The health officer is required by the state’s Health and Safety Code to close the city’s coastal beaches whenever a significant sewage spill happens upstream at either the Los Angeles River or San Gabriel River, according to the release.

“Closures refer specifically to bodily contact with ocean water,” the release stated. “The sand area remains open for the community to enjoy themselves, and all events scheduled on the sand occur as planned.”

The city is currently tracking costs related to the sewage spill and working with the city attorney’s office to recover them from the appropriate agencies, city spokeswoman Kerry Gerot said in an email.

The city was not able to comment on an estimate of those costs or which agencies may have to foot the bill at time of publication.

“The City’s diligent and constant monitoring, along with millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements, has resulted in significant improvements to our recreational water quality, and excellent grades from Heal the Bay for the last several years,” the release stated.

For the latest status on Long Beach recreational beach water quality, call the Water Hotline at 562.570.4199 or visit www.longbeach.gov/health/inspections-and-reporting/inspections/recreational-water-samples/.

PREVIOUSLY: Long Beach Coast Could Open As Early As Saturday Following Sewage Spill

7/21/16 at 4:48PM | Long Beach health officials expect the city’s coastal beaches to reopen as early as Saturday, after about 2.5 million gallons of sewage spilled in Los Angeles Monday afternoon, with most of it entering the Los Angeles River and making its way down to Long Beach.

The spill happened at about 2:00PM Monday, July 18, at 6th Street and Mission Road in Boyle Heights, when a pipe ruptured and sent sewage onto area streets, according to officials with the Los Angeles Department of Public Works. Nearly 2.5 million gallons of sewage spilled before the flow was stopped Tuesday afternoon.

About 750,000 gallons of sewage was recaptured at the scene, leaving about 1.75 million gallons to enter the Los Angeles River, Long Beach city officials said in a release.

“This is the largest sewage spill to impact Long Beach in the last ten years,” city officials stated in a release. 

The closure impacts only coastal beaches. Results from lab tests at Mother’s Beach, Colorado Lagoon and Alamitos Bay were found to be within state standards, according to the release. While these locations remain open they will continue to be tested.

Environmental health specialists with Long Beach’s health department will continue to test the coastal beaches twice daily until water quality improves, Environmental Health Manager Nelson Kerr said. Kerr speculated that, depending on test results, beaches could be reopened as early as Saturday. 

So far, lab tests conducted by the health department have indicated elevated levels of bacteria along the open coastal beaches, according to the release.

Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) lifeguards will be enforcing the closure while testing is performed, the release added.

“The State Health and Safety Code requires the Health Officer to close beaches whenever a significant sewage spill occurs,” Long Beach officials stated.

The sewage spill also forced a stretch of coastline in Seal Beach to close for about three days. The ocean in Seal Beach between the San Gabriel River Mouth and Anaheim Bay had been closed until Thursday, when the Orange County Health Care Agency announced that water testing showed bacteria levels were within acceptable health standards.

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Los Angeles crews were sanitizing streets Wednesday as part of environmental cleanup work being done between Mission Road and Clarence Street, and between 5th and Jesse streets.

Streets and sidewalks within the boundaries and the impacted storm drains and channels to the Los Angeles River are being pressure-washed and sanitized, according to the Department of Public Works.

“This is an old sewer, an aging sewer that was planned to be repaired,” Adel Hagekhalil, assistant director of City Sanitation, said Tuesday. “…This one, we had a plan and it did not wait for us, it collapsed. Our record is very good in the City of Los Angeles. …We spent over $2 billion in the last 10 years in (upgrading) our sewers.”

He said there are about 6,700 miles of sewer lines across the city, and “we haven’t had a major collapse for a long, long time.”

For the latest status on Long Beach recreational beach water quality, call the Water Hotline at 562.570.4199 or visit http://www.longbeach.gov/health/inspections-and-reporting/inspections/recreational-water-samples/.

City News Service contributed to this report. 

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Stephanie Rivera is the community engagement editor for the Long Beach Post. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015.