Sewage spills cause beach closures in Morro Bay and San Diego

MORRO BAY CA. APRIL 2, 2019 - April 2019 of otters floating in the marina at Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County. San Luis Obispo County's health officer Dr. Penny Borenstein has asked tourists to not visit as the county reopens shops and restaurants this week. (Marc Martin / Los Angeles Times)
A ruptured main at an inn sent sewage into the harbor at Morro Bay, shown in April 2019. (Marc Martin / Los Angeles Times)

Weekend beachgoers across California were warned to stay out of the water in light of bacterial contamination from sewage spills.

A spill in Morro Bay on Sunday dumped 7,600 gallons of sewage into the harbor and caused local beach closures, health officials said.

The cause was a ruptured sewage main at the Inn at Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo County’s Public Health Department said.

By Monday, the flow had been contained and signs posted to warn people of the danger.

Read more: California beach is most polluted seen in new study. People are 'getting sick left and right'

About 350 miles down the coast, several stretches of beach in San Diego County remained closed due to sewage spills in nearby Tijuana.

The Tijuana Slough Shoreline, which extends north from the U.S.-Mexico border, has been closed since late 2021 due to high bacteria levels, according to the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health and Quality.

The department "directs beach users to avoid contact with ocean and bay waters in the closure area," the site says.

Two additional areas remained closed due to bacteria levels tied to sewage runoff from Tijuana: Silver Strand Shoreline, whose closure began in May 2024, and Imperial Beach Shoreline, which closed in December.

A beach quality report from the Surfrider Foundation determined that Imperial Beach was the most polluted in the country. Every sample collected turned up bacteria counts that exceeded the state’s health standard for recreational waters, the report said.

“People in my community are getting sick left and right,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Paloma Aguirre, who has urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency there.

“We cannot afford to continue to punt the responsibility across the border because we have a dire situation here on United States soil, on California soil, that is harming California constituents.”

Times staff writer Alene Tchekmedyian contributed to this report.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.