Coastkeeper Thanks Regional Water Board for Holding Costa Mesa Sanitary District Accountable for Harmful Sewage Spill

Advocacy group says the proposed fine of $503,000 ensures better waste water management by sewer agency

ORANGE COUNTY, July 27, 2015 — On Friday, the Santa Ana Regional Water Board proposed penalizing Costa Mesa Sanitary District $503,000 for its massive sewage spill on Labor Day weekend in 2013. Orange County Coastkeeper says the fine shows the Regional Board’s seriousness in holding the Sanitary District accountable to its unnecessary spill that endangered human and environmental health on one of the year’s biggest beach days.

“This is an important win for the people of Orange County, who have been subjected to this hazardous and gross pollution too many times,” says Orange County Coastkeeper Attorney Colin Kelly. “By penalizing the Costa Mesa Sanitary District, the Regional Board is saying ‘no more’ to the excuses that the Sanitary District has been using for the past two years.”

On August 31, 2013, at 10:30 a.m., the Costa Mesa Sanitary District allowed 77,000-gallons of raw sewage to flow into the Newport Beach bay waters. From Upper Newport Bay to Newport Dunes, the waters were closed to swimming, diving and other recreational uses. The Sanitary District claimed the spill caused no financial impact, despite the fact that the pump failure significantly impacted both the environment and the tourism economy.

To prove this spill caused harm, Coastkeeper provided real-life examples from local businesses and residents to reinforce the need for accountability and preventative measures to ensure the Sanitary District doesn’t continue to make harmful mistakes.

Coastkeeper says the spill from the Sanitary District is not the first, nor the last. The most recent spill occurred this year on New Year's Day releasing 8,100 gallons of raw sewage into Newport Beach bay.

“The fact that these debacles occurred on holidays raises concerns about the Costa Mesa Sanitary District operations on holidays. Better measures need to be taken at these times to protect the economy and the environmental resources that power that economy and the Orange County way of life,” says Kelly.

The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Board is scheduled to announce the decision on the fine at its next meeting in September.


ORANGE COUNTY COASTKEEPER: Founded in 1999, the mission of Coastkeeper is to protect and promote sustainable water resources that are swimmable, drinkable, and fishable. Coastkeeper is a nonprofit clean water organization that serves as a proactive steward of our fresh- and saltwater ecosystems. We work collaboratively with diverse groups in the public and private sectors to achieve healthy, accessible, and sustainable water resources for the region. We implement innovative, effective programs in education, advocacy, restoration, research, enforcement, and conservation. For more information, visit or call 714-850-1965.