Beaches open after sewage spill on California Central Coast

MONTEREY, Calif. — Eight beaches on California's Central Coast reopened after nearly 5 million gallons of sewage spilled into the ocean over the weekend, official said Tuesday.

The beaches south of San Francisco that are popular with surfers and day visitors opened Monday after lab tests showed the area is safe, Monterey County health officials said.

Monterey One Water general manager Paul Sciuto said 4.9 million gallons (19 million liters) of sewage water spilled into the ocean after a filter at the water treatment plant got clogged and the computer system failed to sound an alarm.

Sciuto said the plant discharged untreated wastewater into Monterey Bay through an ocean outfall discharge pipe, which extends into the ocean 2.5 miles (4.02 kilometers) at a depth of 130 feet (40 meters).

Lab results Monday from samples taken from the beaches showed a contaminant level below state limits, he said.

Environmental health officials closed the beaches — many with silvery sands or rocky outcrops that offer beautiful vistas and are busy with surfers, dog walkers and picnickers — as a precaution.

Monterey County Health Department spokeswoman Karen Smith said people are being advised to stay away from ocean water and the beaches at least through Friday because of runoff brought to the ocean by rain.

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