Marin spill cues warnings on city beaches

San Francisco officials began monitoring water quality at The City’s beaches Friday to check on a “remote possibility” of contamination from a spill of an estimated 2.7 million gallon sewage spill along the Marin County shoreline.

The spill of partially treated sewage took place Thursday between5:30 and 8:30 p.m. when rainwater overwhelmed the Mill Valley and there was a pump and alarm failure, according to Lt. Doug Pittman of the Marin County Emergency Operations Center.

The spill came down a small creek into Richardson Bay and state and regional environmental officials have been testing the nearby water since Friday morning.

“We’re conducting tests to better identify the exact amount of spread the spill may have had,” Pittman said.

Although officials do not anticipate the spill will cause damage to San Francisco beaches, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission posted warning signs of possible high levels of bacteria in the water at Baker Beach, Aquatic Park, China Beach and Crissy Field.

Tommy Moala, assistant manager in charge of wastewater at SFPUC, said the agency will continue to monitor the bacteria count in the water through the weekend and re-evaluate the situation Monday.

“I anticipate that the bacteria count is not going to be high, but we have to take these precautions just because of a remote possibility of contamination,” he said.

Officials expect the contaminated water to wash out into the ocean by tides and strong currents, said Lila Tang of San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The spill is not expected to reach beaches in San Mateo County, said Beverly Thames of the county's Public Health Department. However, the department will take samples of the water on Monday, she said.

Department of Fish and Game was also monitoring the area, but there have been no reports of wildlife affected by this spill, said Pittman.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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