Sewage Deposits Lead to Beach Closures

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Long walks along the beach need not be romantic. As is all too often the case, heavy rainstorms result in overflowing sewers leading to foul detritus littering the bay. To put it bluntly, beaches in our vicinity are currently despoiled with what 17th-century London diarist Samuel Pepys would have called "great heaps of turds."

Four San Mateo county beaches have been closed today due to an overabundance of the material Pepys found in his basement. Swimmers are advised to avoid the following spots:

  • Linda Mar Beach and Rockaway Beach in Pacifica;
  • Lakeshore Park and Aquatic Park in San Mateo's Marina Lagoon.

The city of San Mateo's overburdened sewers gushed 150,250 gallons of filth into the bay over the weekend. Our calls to the State Water Resources Control Board asking if, you know, that's a lot haven't been answered. It's the holidays, after all.

But the answer to that question is: It all depends on where you step. San Mateo last year dumped 55,000 gallons of sewage into the bay. It also recently
shelled out $950,000 in fines for 87 spills that totaled more than 2.5 million gallons of raw sewage between 2004 and 2008.

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You can't outrun sewage

Incidentally, San Francisco has negotiated a nifty provision with the state that prevents us from being find for dumping our feces into the bay. Why? Because we're one of two cities in the state that has a "combined" water treatment system that handles both sewage and stormwater. As you'd expect, massive influxes of rainwater can -- and do -- result in discharges of untreated sewage straight into the bay.

So as you walk along San Francisco's shoreline and come across great heaps of turds, you can at least take solace in the fact they aren't costing the city any money.

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