By Andrea Papagianis, Updated: 2/13/2014 at 3:42 p.m.
A sewage spill has closed a half-mile stretch of Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point to surfing, swimming and diving until further notice, according Orange County Health Care Agency officials.
A mechanical issue at a Moulton Niguel Water District lift station, which pumps waste water, caused at least 1,500 gallons of sewage to spill into the storm drainage system early yesterday, said Matt Collings, the district’s assistant general manager.
The sewage traveled downstream to Salt Creek and caused the beach closure, Collings confirmed.
Beach closures have been issued a quarter-mile up- and down-coast of Salt Creek Beach, until at least Saturday, said Larry Honeybourne, a HCA program manager. The agency will not reopen the beach until two-consecutive daily water quality readings meet state health standards.
Health officials tested the Salt Creek waters this morning and will again tomorrow. Test analyses take up to 24 hours, so results will not be available until Saturday afternoon, Honeybourne said.
Yesterday, Moulton Niguel crews put a bypass pump in place to keep the system functioning while repairs to the lift station were made, Collings said. Toilets flush waste water using gravity, but the lift stations with pumps are needed to transport such water up hills.
The station handles between 1 million to a half-billion gallons of waste water each day, Honeybourne said. The spillage was limited between 1,500 to 2,500 gallons, he said.
Other warnings posted near Dana Point Wednesday included ocean waters from Doheny State Beach to Poche Beach. Visit ocbeachinfo.com for the latest on area beach postings.