City officials have closed Santa Barbara’s Leadbetter Beach to recreational use in the wake of a large sewage spill in the area.
About 6,600 gallons of untreated sewage spilled in the waterfront area near the 1100 block of Luneta Plaza, and flowed into a nearby storm drain that discharges at Leadbetter Beach, according to a statement from the city Public Works Department.
The department issued a “beach closed” notice Monday at Leadbetter, which will remain off limits until testing reveals the water is safe.
“The affected area has been posted with signs warning the public to avoid contact with the water until sample results indicate the water is safe for recreational use,” the statement said.
The city was alerted by a resident shortly after 8 a.m. Monday that a manhole near her home had been overflowing since the previous day.
City crews traced the problem to a root blockage, which was cleared within about 20 minutes, the city said.
“The section of sewer main where the spill occurred had been recently rehabilitated and lined with a continuous plastic liner,” the city said. “Subsequent closed-circuit television inspection of the sewer main revealed that roots causing the blockage had grown into the main from a private lateral.”
Although staff conduct regular checks of the sewer system, the city said, there are over 7,000 manholes, “and we are reliant on the public to notify us of sewage spills.”
The city has staff on-call at all times, and the public is urged to report any suspected sewage spills as quickly as possible. During regular business hours, people should call 805.564.5413. After hours, nights and weekends they can call 805.963.4286.
In addition to avoiding the water, the department is urging the public to wait until at least 10 days to harvest shellfish in the affected area, which could carry disease from contaminated waters.