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Sewage Blamed on Pipe Rupture

July 31, 2000


The Orange County Register

SOUTH LAGUNA -- The sewage spill that has placed 2,000 feet of Aliso Beach off-limits to swimming and surfing was caused by a ruptured pipeline inside the Aliso Water Management Agency sanitation plant just east of Coast Highway, county health officials said Sunday.

The precise cause of the rupture isn't known, but sanitation officials will inspect and possibly repair the pipeline today, said Larry Honeybourne, director of water quality for the Orange County Public Health Care Agency.

The break did not affect the plant's ability to process waste and send it into a large concrete pipeline that transports treated sewage two miles off Aliso Creek.

About 1,500 gallons of partially treated sewage leaked from the pipeline, then outside the plant, at 11:45 a.m. Saturday.

The sewage oozed into Aliso Creek. Normally, such pollution would have been stopped from reaching the sea by a berm that had been built just east of Coast Highway.

But Honeybourne said Sunday that recent high tides breached the berm and inundated pumps that were diverting urban runoff directly into the offshore sewage pipeline.

The berm was built to prevent runoff that flows into the creek from parts of Laguna Beach, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods and Lake Forest from flowing into the ocean at the crescent-shaped beach in South Laguna.

Saturday's ban was the 29th time this year that a portion of local near-shore waters has been closed because of a sewage spill - seven more closures than were recorded in all of 1999. The closure also comes less than a week after officials issued a health advisory for a 300-foot section of Aliso Beach after high levels of bacteria were found in the water. Swimming and surfing will likely remain off-limits until at least today.

-- (, July 31, 2000

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