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Signs warning of contamination removed from Lake Calavera

CARLSBAD – Signs posted along the shoreline of Lake Calavera warning of possible contamination were removed on Thursday, more than a week after escaped sewage flowed from a storm drain into a nearby creek and eventually into the lake. 

The spill happened on the morning of Nov. 25.

The duration of the spill was really short, said Mark McPherson, chief of land and water quality division for the Department of Environmental Health, San Diego County.

“It was only 12 minutes,” he said.

Spilling at about 950 gallons per minute, the county estimated that 11,400 gallons of sewage spilled from the sewer main.

Repairs were still being done along a section of Lake Boulevard in Oceanside where a water main broke and lead to a ruptured sewer main. Photo by Tony Cagala
Repairs were still being done along a section of Lake Boulevard in Oceanside where a water main broke and lead to a ruptured sewer main. Photo by Tony Cagala

“They recovered about 3,000 gallons,” McPherson said, adding that the sewage release was estimated at 8,400 gallons that went into the unnamed creek, which flows into the lake.

McPherson said that samples were taken from three different locations around the lake, including the creek outlet, the middle of the lake along the north shoreline, and another one at the southwestern corner of the lake.

The department tested the water for total coliform, fecal coliform and enterococcus.

They OK’d the removal of the warning signs after having received the test results.

“Anytime there’s a sewage spill, the municipality or the waste water agency…and it enters a public area, especially the water, they have to call the Department of Environmental Health to report it, and we look at it and direct the sampling and ensure that…they prevent access from the public areas that have the potential to be contaminated,” McPherson said.

The spill was attributed to a broken water main, which opened a sinkhole on the 4700 block of Lake Boulevard in Oceanside, according to a county news release.

Oceanside water crews were still doing repair work along Lake Boulevard on Thursday.

Lake Calavera is overseen by Carlsbad. The lake is an open space preserve where hikers, joggers and bicyclists often use the more than six miles of trails that surround it for recreational purposes.


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1 comment

Amanda Mascia December 8, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I live in between Lake Blvd and the unnamed creek, where the spill occurred. It flowed for much longer than 12 minutes (multiple days). It looked bright orange for 3 days and the creek that was there is now full of silt. A LOT of silt. I would advise testing of the creek itself. It’s great to know the lake the creek outlet into the lake are clean, but that creek wraps almost 3/4 mile until it reaches the lake and a few places you have to slodge through the muck and people track it on their boots. Seems a health risk if there is fecal matter in the slit and mud, no?
Amanda Mascia’s photo.

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