A three-quarter mile stretch of Will Rogers State Beach will remain closed to bathers until Tuesday because of a ruptured sewer line that poured raw sewage into the ocean at Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles County health officials said Saturday.
The county Health Services Department closed the beach from Temescal Canyon north to Sunset Point on Friday afternoon after tests showed levels of organic pollution exceeding state standards, said Dick Rinaldi, director of environmental protection for the health department.
A leak in a city of Los Angeles sewer line allowed sewage to flow into the Pulga Canyon storm drain, Rinaldi said. "The flow of sewage in the storm drain had been going on at least since Wednesday," he added. "It was far more than a trickle."
About 10,000 bathers typically use that beach on a holiday weekend day, lifeguards said. Beachgoers on Saturday were directed to other beaches to the north and south. The parking lot leading to the affected beach was fenced off, and signs warned that the water was contaminated.
Broken Line Fixed
The closure did not result in significant crowding at other beaches, lifeguards said. A lighter-than-expected crowd estimated at 650,000 turned out at beaches from San Pedro to Malibu on the first day of the warm Labor Day weekend, lifeguards reported. Air temperatures along the beaches ranged from the mid-70s to the low 80s.
City workers monitor bacteria levels on a daily basis and traced the higher-than-normal bacteria counts to a storm drain. They then followed the drain until it led them to a rupture in a sewer line, which allowed untreated sewage--bound for the Hyperion Treatment Plant in El Segundo--to enter the storm drain, Rinaldi said.
He said city workers have fixed the break in the sewer line. "They have also chlorinated the discharge that's been going onto the beach and into the ocean," he said.
There were no reports of illness caused by the bacteria, which can cause intestinal upset. But, lifeguards urged, anyone who becomes ill after swimming near the area should contact a doctor. Lifeguards stationed near the affected beach were offered gamma globulin injections as a precaution against contracting viral disease, said Eric Shargo, a lifeguard.
Health officials last week warned beachgoers against swimming in water running out of two storm drains that empty into the ocean at Will Rogers State Beach, and a third drain that sends runoff into the surf at Santa Monica State Beach. But, officials said, ocean water near the Santa Monica drain is safe for swimming.
The city of Los Angeles has been plagued recently by spills of sewage into the ocean. The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Board on Aug. 21 fined the city $30,050 for four spills from an overflow gate in Culver City into the ocean at Playa del Rey that occurred between July 12 and July 26. It was the first time the city had been fined for sewage spills.