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Sewage Spill Expected to Stop Short of Beaches

October 15, 2002|Massie Ritsch | Times Staff Writer

There is little risk that potentially sickening sewage that oozed into Malibu Creek State Park over the weekend will reach beaches and the ocean, a water official said Monday.

After an underground pipe leaked Sunday morning in Calabasas, as much as 2,000 gallons of sludge from homes in western Los Angeles County and eastern Ventura County flowed into a culvert along Las Virgenes Road and into creeks and parkland, said Norm Buehring, director of resource conservation for Las Virgenes Municipal Water District.

The pipe carried sewage pumped from the district's Tapia Water Reclamation Facility to its Rancho Las Virgenes plant, which processes solid waste for composting. The leak occurred near Las Virgenes Road and Mulholland Highway.

Crews shut off the pumps, vacuumed as much sludge as their equipment could handle and dammed a portion of Malibu Creek to keep the effluent from running toward the Pacific, Buehring said. Some of the waste did flow over the makeshift dike, he said, but it will probably seep into the ground and be filtered naturally.

"Once it goes underground, it will no longer be a health issue," Buehring said. "It will not get to the ocean."

Test results measuring bacteria in the mile-long affected area should be available today or Wednesday, and the broken pipe could be fixed within the week, Buehring said.

Until then, the district is storing the sewage.

The Las Virgenes Municipal Water District serves 85,000 customers in Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Westlake Village, Oak Park and portions of Thousand Oaks.

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