$1.5 million settlement over Laguna Beach sewage spill approved

A $1.5 million settlement with the city Laguna Beach stemming from a 2019 spill that sent 1.7 million gallons of sewage into Aliso Creek and the ocean was approved Wednesday, June 9, by the San Diego Water Quality Control Board.

At the time of the massive spill, the ocean was closed for a 16-mile stretch from Crystal Cove in Newport Beach to Poche Beach in Dana Point.

The settlement calls for the city to pay $785,780 in fines and use the remaining $748,278 to help fund improvements to make such spills less likely in the future.

“Having the proposed project in place will be a valuable asset while the city develops and implements its broader plans for improving wastewater management and protecting public health and the environment,” said Chiara Clemente, the water board’s enforcement coordinator. “It’s encouraging to see these funds applied to wastewater infrastructure improvements.”

After a corroded sewage valve ruptured on Thanksgiving weekend in 2019, sewage flowed for three days into Aliso Creek and the ocean at the Laguna Beach State Marine Conservation Area, according to the water board. To make repairs, sewage was then diverted and released at Bluebird Beach, which is in the Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve.

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