OCEANSIDE — An estimated 180,000 gallons of sewage spilled into the Buena Vista Creek after a sewage pipe broke Dec. 22. It’s not known exactly how long the break in the Haymar wastewater line, which lies within Buena Vista Creek on the south side of Highway 78, allowed sewage to run into the creek and lagoon, but sewage water was diverted to another pipeline within two and a half hours of the Water Utilities Department noticing the leak.
Rain added to the problem. “The storm already introduces sewage to the water,” Cari Dale, director of Water Utilities, said.
The sewage line will be repaired at a cost to the city of about $500,000. Issues with the pipe have not gone unnoticed. “We’ve been working with the regulatory agency to replace the pipe for three and a half years,” Dale said. “It’s taken a really long time.”
The Haymar wastewater line was not built within the creek bed. Over the years the flow of the creek shifted and now the creek covers the sewage line that is currently in need of repair.
The city is in the process of working with regulatory agencies to plan and fund water cleanup. A local emergency was declared and county emergency funds are anticipated to help with the cleanup costs. “We may get reimbursed for some of the emergency work that occurred from the storm,” Dale said. The cost of cleanup is not known.
The timeline for cleanup is also unknown. Warning signs have been posted in public access areas along Buena Vista Creek cautioning people that there has been a sewage spill and fish may be unsafe to eat.