On Thursday, September 8th a widespread power outage left over 5 million people in California, Arizona, and Mexico without electricity. Among the population affected, 1.5 million San Deigans were left in the dark as 2 million gallons of sewage water began to spill into San Diego water tables, beaches, lagoons, and harbor. The spillage caused the closure of 1o miles of San Diego coastline, deeming the water extremely unsafe.
The first pump failed at 5:50pm, when it began spilling 1.9 million gallons of sewage into the Los Penasquitos Lagoon which feeds directly into Torrey Pines State Beach.
A second pump station failed during the outage and discharged 120,000 gallons of sewage into the Sweet Water River flowing directly into San Diego Bay.
The spill was unable to be controlled for three and a half hours until power was restored, due to the fact there were no back-up generators available for the sewage treatment plants affected.
Tests announced on Monday showed that bacteria levels are still far above state standards thus closures are likely to remain in place through the week at the hardest hit spots. Health officials require two days of clean samples before they clear beaches for human use.
South of the border, Mexico faced an even larger spill of 3.8 million gallons of sewage which flowed into the Tijuana River. The Mexico spill was reported not being as dangerous as the San Diego spill however due to the fact that the raw sewage in Mexico did not reach the beaches as it did in San diego.
The debate over whether or not there will be a fine for the pollution of the beaches is still up in the air, but the question remains, why isn’t there a back-up generator for one of the largest sewage treatment