Storms, Trash, and Sewage Spills Muck Up Long Beach Shores


    Another day, another storm — and another spill. Earlier this month, health officials in Long Beach closed Alamitos Bay swimming areas after yet another sewage spill brought on by heavy rains. This most recent spill marks at least the third in the last month alone.

    An overflowing manhole near Colorado Lagoon caused 2,400 gallons of sewage to be discharged, prompting the closure of the lagoon, along with Mother’s Beach and Alamitos Bay. The swimming areas were to remain closed until test results showed that the water was again safe for activities.

    While much of California is rejoicing about the record-breaking rains, the overflow has proved problematic for the Long Beach area. In late January, all the precipitation made Long Beach look more like Venice; public safety and city personnel worked overtime to rescue motorists in peril and to evaluate the water damage.

    All told, 3.91 inches of rain fell during the span of a single day, breaking a record held since 1995. In addition to all that long-awaited rain, all of Long Beach’s coastal swimming areas were forced to close after a staggering seven sewage spills occurred.

    The rain also caused a 150-foot barge to wash up on the beach in Belmont Shore; moreover, the shores have become littered with debris and junk. Around 10% of washed-up trash along the U.S. coastline is comprised just of plastic bags. Although the state of California has done its part to reduce their use, having approved Proposition 47 to ban carry-out plastic bags back in November, they’re still an issue in terms of washed-up trash.

    Due to the storms, the Rainbow Harbor boom broke free and subsequently discharged tons of trash onto the beaches and into the sea. The boom normally keeps trash out of the harbor, but the inclement weather caused this effort to backfire. That trash will be collected by storm drains along the Los Angeles River. However, if it’s not cleaned out regularly, more build ups and spills may be imminent, says city spokeswoman Kerry Gerot.

    Considering that the average human generates more than four pounds of trash on a daily basis, the city has its work cut out for it. And while area residents might have been grateful for the rain at first, the emerging trash and hazardous conditions have proven to be more trouble than forecasted.