On December 27, 3375 gallons of sewage gushed into the Zanja Creek after crews from San Diego's Waste Water Department unblocked a clogged sewage pipe in San Diego's Fairbanks Ranch community.
Crews were unable to contain the spill, allowing sewage to flow into Zanja Creek. The sewage is now pouring into the San Dieguito River on the way toward the river's outlet in Del Mar.
The San Dieguito River already had water quality issues. Due to sporadic tidal flow, the San Dieguito Lagoon contains elevated levels of coliform bacteria, the same bacteria that are found living in the intestines of humans and warm-blooded animals. The high level of coliform has caused the state's water resource board to classify the river as an "impaired waterway."
To make matters worse, the spill comes at a time when storm=water runoff has impacted local beaches. Currently, according to the San Diego Coastkeeper website, advisories for poor water quality are posted along the coast.
In response, county water officials placed warning signs at the river's outlet. "Signs warning of sewage contamination are posted 600 feet north and south at San Dieguito River outlet Del Mar and will remain in place until samples confirm the water is safe for recreational use," read the press release from San Diego County water officials.