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Alamitos Bay Beaches Reopened Saturday

Two days in a row, the waters tested with bacteria levels below state standards following a gated community's sewage spill. Long Beach officials to declared the water safe to swim and paddle in.

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.

Mike Ruehle October 06, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Isn't a shame that Long Beach families must take their children to other community beaches to swim in order to keep their children free from sickness.
Mike Ruehle October 07, 2012 at 07:47 AM
This is the 2nd time in 3 years the Bixby Hills community has dumped their raw sewage into the bay, causing multiple beach closure. Despite what city officials claim that it has never happened before from this location, the LBReport.com reported a raw sewage spill from this very location closed the beaches in 2009. http://www.lbreport.com/news/jul09/sewsp709.htm In fact, the recent city press release looks identical to the one in 2009, right down to the 1000 gallons of raw sewage and all. Nelson Kerr, manager of the health department's bureau of environmental health initially said the city was going to aggressively seek prosecution of the property owner. Yet he admits the city did not do so in 2009. What makes anyone believe anything Nelson Kerr says and that it will happen this time? Long Beach, look forward to having another raw sewage spill from this very location close your beaches again in the not so distant future.
Mike Ruehle October 07, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Because 1000 gallons of raw sewage was spilled into the ocean both last week and in 2009 by the Bixby Hills Community, that means the sewage spill also went unabated for 17 hours in 2009. Either that, or the city is not fessing up on how much they really believe was spilled into the bay.

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