Were You Swimming in Sewage Labor Day Weekend 2013?

signs that are put up when there is a sewage spill.. Gross! On the last big weekend of the summer in 2013, after a pump station operated by the Costa Mesa Sanitary District failed, 77,000-gallons of sewage were dumped straight into Newport Beach Bay waters. It contaminated the waters that locals and tourists were there to enjoy. From Upper Newport Bay all the way to Newport Dunes, the waters were closed to swimming, diving and other recreational uses. Impacts from the spill were not subtle.

  • The sewage flowed directly into Newport Beach’s protected ecological reserve, home to an array of wildlife species and the crown jewel of Newport Beach.
  • Labor day weekend attracted children, families, locals and tourists to the waters that were contaminated and closed for the weekend. The sewage some people unknowingly swam in contained the contaminants and bacteria known to cause life-threatening illnesses like MRSA, Hepatitus A, Meningitis, Streptococcus, and Gastroenteritis. Network television crews like KNBC came out to interview people affected by the spill.
  • Many Newport Beach businesses took a massive hit, as the City was forced to close miles of beach during the most popular beach weekend of the year.

Despite all this, the Costa Mesa Sanitary District claims there was no financial impact from the spill. They claim no responsibility.

This incident was not an isolated stroke of bad luck. Another spill on New Years Day, 2015 happened for similar reasons. It appears the Costa Mesa Sanitary District has issues with operations on holidays, plausibly because they are understaffed.

If we do not speak up, and hold the Costa Mesa Sanitary District responsible for these pollution blunders, they will continue to happen and continue to impact our economy, our environment and the health of our families. This is our water, our homes, our families, our businesses and our environment. We cannot allow the Sanitary District to dump sewage into our waters.

With the California drought in its fourth year this is no time to let this type of water pollution slip through the cracks, it impacts our waters, wildlife and the health of our loved ones.

On July 24, a hearing will be held at the Irvine Ranch Water District’s office in Irvine near the area where the spill occurred. Orange County Coastkeeper is working with the water board to make sure measures are taken so that the Costa Mesa Sanitary District takes responsibility for the spill, remediates any harm caused, and ensures this type of spill does not happen again. We need your help. If you or anyone you know was swimming in these waters on Labor Day weekend and/or was harmed by this devastating spill, please contact Colin at colin@coastkeeper.org. The more support we have the better we can protect our waters and community from this type of harmful pollution.


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