The County Health Department is warning everyone about water contamination after heavy rains caused a sewage spill at the California Men’s Colony’s sewer treatment plant, the Health Department said in a news release.
The spill started about midnight on Sunday, Dec. 11 and wasn’t stopped until 8 a.m., according to the news release. “A large, unknown volume of primary treated sewage,” reads he news release, “was released into Chorro Creek, due to equipment malfunction as a result of the heavy rain.
“Sewage overflowed from the sewer treatment plant and entered Chorro Creek.”
The sewer plant is located on land back behind Cuesta College and adjacent to the creek. Regular discharges of fully treated wastewater are regularly released into the creek, as the normal method of getting rid of wastewater.
The County was planning to test the ocean waters, as Chorro Creek ultimately empties into the National Estuary, which flows with the tides into Morro Bay Harbor. The County planned to take water samples at Morro Bay City Beach (at Morro Rock) and Morro Strand State beach on Monday morning.
The County warns everyone to steer out of the ocean whenever there is a significant rain,
“Rainstorm runoff is known to transport high levels of disease-causing organisms such as bacteria, viruses and protozoa from the watershed and urban areas to the ocean,” the County said. “Such organisms carried into the ocean can cause skin, respiratory, and intestinal problems. Young children, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to these waterborne pathogens.
“Surfers, swimmers and others are advised to avoid contact with ocean water during this period, especially in areas close to creeks, rivers, storm drains and other runoff outlets that empty into the ocean.”
For more information about beach water quality, go to the Public Health Department Beach Water Quality website at www.slocounty.ca.gov/health/publichealth/ehs/beach, or call the Ocean Water Monitoring Program Telephone Hotline at (805) 788-3411.