San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department issued a press release Sunday evening stating that there have been two sewage spills in San Luis Obispo, causing the temporary closure of Avila Beach.
The first spill was on Mitchell Drive at 1:04 p.m. and the second one was on Broad Street at 4 p.m.
The Health Department advises people avoid contact with San Luis Creek and Avila Beach water due to the higher than average levels of disease-causing organisms such as bacteria, viruses and protozoans coming from the sewage and general watershed. It is recommended citizens avoid contact with effected bodies of water for at least three days following significant rainstorms. In this situation people should count specifically three days from yesterday, according to Richard Lichtenfels, a supervising environmental health specialist at the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department.
Contact with the organisms listed above can lead to skin, respiratory and intestinal problems. Very young people and the elderly are especially susceptible to these waterborne pathogens.
However, the San Luis County Public Health Department stated in the press release that the spills are unlikely to cause major harm to public health or safety due to the large amount of rain water the area received during recent storms. People who have healthy immune systems and have had contact with the water should be relatively safe.
“Most folks who are in the water … they are pretty strong with pretty good immune systems,” Lichtenfels said.
According to the press release, 6,200 gallons of sewage were released from a sewer line on the 500 block of Mitchell Drive. The spill was caused by a blockage occurring in the sewer line. The block has been cleared and the spill has been cleaned. However, the spilled sewage entered into the storm drain which feeds into San Luis Creek that, in turn, flows into Avila Beach.
Sewer lines near 55 and 95 Broad Street released 36,000 gallons of sewage. This spill was reported to have been caused by a storm water infiltration to the sewer line, meaning storm water overwhelmed the sewage line and caused it to leak. This release has also been stopped and the spill has been cleaned. The sewage from the spill entered Garden Creek, which also flows into San Luis Creek and, in turn, Avila Beach.
For additional information about ocean water quality, visit the Public Health Department Beach Water Quality website or call (805) 788-3411.