In response to findings of the Los Angeles County Department of Auditor-Controller, which recently reported that records do not exist for 189 of the 208 sewage spills that reportedly occurred in the past four and a half years in Los Angeles County, local Assemblyman Ted Lieu has introduced Assembly Bill 800 (AB 800), which would strengthen state laws affecting the emergency notification and reporting of raw sewage spills.
The county auditor-controller report also indicated that most of these sewage spills have no record of any cleanup efforts or steps taken to warn the public.
“This is a serious public health issue,” Lieu said. “These unreported spills represent over eight million gallons of raw sewage that have spread into the coastal areas of Los Angeles County.
“This is reprehensible, that the proper public health authorities were never contacted in the event of these spills, and that no one really knows where the spills occurred and what communities were impacted.”
AB 800 would require sewage treatment workers to notify local public health officials immediately when a spill occurs and would increase civil fines for failing to properly notify local public health officials in the event of a sewage spill.
The bill would also establish uniform standards for county health departments to report sewage spills and document efforts to notify the public of the health risks.
Lieu is working with Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, the Los Angeles County Department of Auditor-Controller, and the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board in developing this legislation.
“This investigation revealed that changes in the sewage spill reporting process need to happen at every level of government,” said Knabe. “I am thrilled Assemblyman Lieu has taken the critical leadership role of bringing the reforms that need to happen at the state-level to the attention of the Legislature.”
Lieu and Knabe share a stretch of coastline that has been affected by recent sewage spills, including El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance.