Long Beach's Alamitos Bay beaches were declared safe for in-water recreation Saturday morning after two days in a row of bacteria tests found levels below state standards.
The Long Beach Health Department closed the city's Alamitos Bay beaches to water use Sunday afternoon after testing showed unsafe levels of bacteria had reached the water via Los Cerritos Channel.
A Saturday sewage spill on Bixby Terrace Drive in the gated Bixby Hill neighborhood allegedly went unreported to the city until about 11 a.m. Sunday, said Nelson Kerr, manager of the health department's bureau of environmental health.
Bacteria tests at several locations failed to meet standards and Mother's Beach and Marine Stadium, closest to the channel mouth, were closed first. Tests the following morning resulted in all waterfronts, from Naples Island to Bay Shore beach and the Peninsula, closed for in-water use (boating would be okay).
For two days in a row, water tests conducted by the City of Long Beach's Health Department showed bacteria levels in the safe, background range, the city's new chief health officer said Saturday.
The closure area had included mostly calm-water recreation areas, but not the ocean itself. Sample results taken Thursday and Friday--and which take 24 hours for results--showed Saturday morning the water to be clean.
The original spill was due to the failure of a private sump pump, and a resident on Bixby Terrace Drive, who called a city emergency line Sunday morning, told Patch and the city he reported the spill at 7 p.m. to his homeowner association, but awoke Sunday to find the sewage still leaking out of manhole covers and down the street, eventually reaching the channel.
The city is considering further enforcement against the private property owner, which is required by the state health and safety code to report a sewage spill immediately or face a fine of $500 to $1,000, Kerr said. It would be the city's first such prosecution, said Kerr, who added that private property sewage spills are quite rare.
Alamitos Bay has become increasingly popular with stand-up surfers and paddlers, and those activities were among all forms of water-conduct recreation that were off-limits for the last week, under lifeguard enforcement.
--City News contributed to this story.