A stretch of beaches in Venice south to Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey was closed to swimming early Thursday, June 14th, after more that 2,400 gallons of sewage spilled into Ballona Creek. The beaches were reopened two days later.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials closed beaches from a quarter of a mile north of Ballona Creek in Venice to a quarter mile south of the creek on Dockweiler Beach following the sewage spill, which originated near Lincoln Boulevard and LMU Drive in Westchester.
The spill occurred at about 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 13th, from an eight-inch sewer line that was blocked at 8045 Lincoln Blvd., said Lauren Skinner, city Department of Public Works spokeswoman.
The sewer got blocked due to a buildup of grease, causing 2,427 gallons of sewage to discharge and spill into an adjacent catch basin that serves as a tributary to Ballona Creek, Skinner said.
County public health officials were notified of the spill at about 2 a.m. and decided to close the beaches to swimming in the potentially impacted areas.
Lifeguards were notified at 6 a.m. to post warning signs on the beaches, which remained open for recreational uses, such as walking or playing in the sand.
City Bureau of Sanitation workers performed a cleanup of the spill area and cleared the sewage backup by midnight Wednesday, June 13th, Skinner said.
After public health officials conducted tests of the ocean water and determined that bacteria levels met health safety standards, the beaches were reopened to swimming at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday, June 16th, said Eric Edwards, Department of Public Health chief environmental health specialist.
“The levels were quite low,” Edwards said.
The same stretch of beaches were closed after another spill occurred only weeks before on May 24th, when more than 6,700 gallons of sewage entered Ballona Creek due to a backup in the 4200 block of Wilshire Boulevard.
While the spill June 13th was much smaller, it happened in closer proximity to Ballona Creek, Skinner said.
The Bureau of Sanitation received a report of the spill and was able to respond to the incident in a timely manner, said Cora Jackson-Fossett, Department of Public Works spokeswoman.
“We appreciate the partnership with the public,” Jackson-Fossett said of the public assistance in reporting spills. “We responded as soon as we got the report.”
Noting that the sewage spills that have occurred in the area this year are not any more frequent than in other years, Edwards said the incidents are just being reported better.
“The reporting has improved over the last several months,” Edwards said.
David Sommers, spokesman for county Supervisor Don Knabe, agreed with the Public Health Department spokesman, saying that the report of the June 13th spill and subsequent response happened as it should have.
“The spills that are happening are being reported as they should be,” Sommers said.