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Morro Bay sewage leak closes two beaches 

More than 7,000 gallons of sewage leaked into the Morro Bay estuary over the weekend of June 22 at the Inn at Morro Bay. Environmental Health Services said the accidental leak has been fixed and they don't anticipate any long-term effects.

According to Director of Environmental Health Peter Hague, the leak was caused by utility work near the Inn at Morro Bay at 60 State Park Road when the pipeline was hit and ruptured. Over the next two days, he said, sewage came up into the property, entered a storm drain, and emptied into the bay.

click to enlarge LEAKY PIPES Utility work ruptured a sewage pipe at the Inn at Morro Bay causing sewage to travel from the property to a storm drain and into the bay.  - PHOTO TAKEN FROM INN AT MORRO BAY FACEBOOK PAGE
  • Photo Taken From Inn At Morro Bay Facebook Page
  • LEAKY PIPES Utility work ruptured a sewage pipe at the Inn at Morro Bay causing sewage to travel from the property to a storm drain and into the bay. 

Once the inn was notified on June 24, repair crews stopped any further leakage around 6 p.m. In total, Hague said 7,600 gallons of sewage drained into the bay.

As precaution and in compliance with state law, Morro Harbor Bay posted advisory signs on June 24 warning beachgoers of the two contaminated and closed beaches in the area. Additionally, the San Luis Obispo Environmental Health Services Division released a public notice that said, "The beach closure will remain in place until bacteriological levels are below California state standards determined safe for ocean water recreation."

Environmental Health Services collected samples of the water and received confirmation that levels returned to within California's safe water range. The beaches were reopened and issued with a health advisory on June 25.

Hague said the spill isn't as big a deal as it has been portrayed, referring to KTLA's reporting the spill as "massive."

"There is an enormous amount of water in that bay," he told New Times. "It dwarfs that amount of sewage that's released."

As the water moves in and out of the bay, the "dynamic system" of 2,300 acres of water will flush out the 7,600 gallons of sewage quickly, he said.

Hague explained that while Environmental Health still considers the spill to be an issue, it wasn't anyone's fault, including the utility company. "It's just kind of an accident," he said.

The Inn at Morro Bay did not respond to New Times' request for comment.

Morro Bay City Manager Yvonne Kimball responded to New Times by email and said that though the incident did occur within city limits, the leaking sewer system is not owned or operated by the city. The city is, however, "dedicated to collaborating with all relevant agencies to restore the safety and health of [the] bay."

"We are relieved to know that the appropriate parties, including the county environmental health department, have been actively reporting and monitoring the situation," Kimball said.

Additionally, Public Works Director Greg Kwolek said on June 25 the city is still on standby to assist with the spill and has provided supplies for faster repair.

Pismo Beach also had a leak on June 19. Sewage drained into a creek near Pismo Coast Village Campground after a manhole cover overflowed for unknown reasons.

Environmental Health Services released a statement advising visitors to avoid contacting the ocean water near the creek until sample results indicated acceptable levels of bacteria.

As of June 26, the beach had been reopened. Δ

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