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New ocean water report reveals steady decline of Orange County sewage spills over 19-year period

The OC Health Care Agency’s (HCA) 2017 and 2018 Ocean, Harbor & Bay Water Quality Report is now available online and provides an analysis of bacteriological water quality data over a 19-year period for Orange County’s ocean recreational waters.

Major findings of the report include:

  • The 87 sewage spills reported in 2018 showed a steady declining trend, down 78.7% from the peak record of 408 spills in 2002.
  • The number of sewage spills resulting in beach closures was 31.6% below the 30-year average of 19 closures per year.
  • Pipeline blockages caused by roots and grease continue to be responsible for a majority (56%) of sewage spills that resulted in beach closures from 1999-2018.
  • In 2018, 10 rain advisories were issued that lasted for a total of 47 days. Rain advisories are issued when bacterial levels are elevated and can cause illness to swimmers, surfers and divers.

Yearly data and trends are included that represent the period from 2000-2018 as mandated by the passing of California Assembly Bill 411 in 1999 to ensure ocean water quality meets bacteriological standards to protect public health. The report also incorporates historical data during the most recent 32-year period from 1987-2018.

The full report, which includes details related to sewage spills as well as ocean, harbor and bay water closures was prepared by the HCA’s Environmental Health Ocean Water Protection Program and is available here.

The Ocean Water Protection Program is responsible for protecting the public from exposure to ocean and bay waters that may be contaminated with sewage or may cause illness along Orange County’s coastal areas. To learn more, visit www.ocbeachinfo.com.

This article was released by the OC Health Care Agency.